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Need source for Burmese tea leaves (laphet, lephet)

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  • Herb Sep 9, 2004 07:21 PM
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I'm a big fan of Burmese tea leaf salad (laphet thoke, lephet thote, lap pat dok, among many other English transliterations), which I first came to know and love at Mandalay Restaurant in San Francisco. But my home in Santa Cruz County, California is too far from the nearest Burmese restaurant to make my craving an easy one to satisfy.

I'm looking for a source of tea leaves (laphet) so I can prepare my own tea leaf salad. I've asked at a couple of Burmese restaurants; at one I was told "We know this Burmese sailor, and whenever he comes to San Francisco he brings us a big supply." Interesting, but not too useful for me, as I don't know even a single officer of the Myanmar Merchant Marine. At another restaurant the staff claimed perfect ignorance of the source of their leaves, perhaps fearing that I was a Treasury agent in search of Burmese trade ban violators.

And so I turn to you, Chowhounds. Can anyone provide a source for Burmese laphet tea leaves? Thanks.

Link: http://www.innwa.com/dev/kitchen/news...

Image: http://www.innwa.com/dev/kitchen/News...

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  1. Not an answer, exactly, but a start.

    Follow link to a recipe (and note) in the Merc from February.

    Link: http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/mercur...

    4 Replies
    1. re: SteveT

      Thanks, SteveT. Though the article claims that "[f]ermented tea leaves can be found at some Asian markets in Northern California. If you can't find them there, try Indian grocery stores, which often carry them," I have yet to run across them in my frequent trips to Bay Area markets. Not that I had been looking, the thought of a normal Asian market carrying lephet never having crossed my mind.

      If anyone can provide a store that carries lephet and/or a product brand name, that would help a lot.

      1. re: Herb

        I'm a first time poster and my first experience with tea salad was at burma superstar and I too would love to make my own version at home as well.

        Found a place online that sells it (based out of Singapore). Don't know if they ship to the U.S. though. But at least you know what the packages look like and maybe you can find something like it in Ranch 99 or some other Asian Supermarket
        http://www.myathayaphu.com/kitchen.asp

        Good luck :)

      2. re: SteveT

        Burmese tea leave salad tealeaves - JUST CALLED ANY BURMESE MONASTERY - THE MONKS AND NUNS ARE VERY NICE - THEY KNOW WHO SELL THEM - OR YOU CAN GO TO BUY TEA PLANT AND PICKED YOUNG LEAVES AND PUT SOME SALT IN IT AND JUST LET IT SIT UNTIL IT CHANGE TO YELLOWISH THAN MIX IT WITH SHREDDED VEG, FRIED NUTS & PEAS, SESAME, CHILLI AND ENJOY - I have tea and coffee plants - ask your nusery - they'll get it for you. In Southern California we have many individuals who have some for private use but they'll share with you if they can. For me my cousins are pilots and airhostesses - so they can bring me some for private use whenever.

        1. re: Moe

          Thanks. Though I am fortunate to live in a place where there is a local Burmese monastery (Taungpulu Kaba Aye Monastery in Boulder Creek, CA), I confess some hesitance in asking a group of renunciates to help fulfill what is, after all, a mundane, epicurean, and not very spiritual desire.

          It is an interesting resource to keep in mind, and if I can get over my fear of offending the monks I'll give them a call.

          Link: http://santacruzbud.tripod.com/taungp...

      3. Try Shwe Store, an online Burmese food purveyor; they have laphet and other Burmese goodies. Here is the link:

        http://www.shwestore.com/Content/prod...

        They operate out of Maryland, so you shouldn't have to wait long for your shipment. Enjoy!

        5 Replies
        1. re: marachino

          Wow, thanks for the link! My dad is from Burma so I just sent him this -- I bet he'll be thrilled! He gets his Burmese goodies only when his brother comes to visit, so maybe this will help him get his fix. ;)

          1. re: marachino

            Thanks sooo much for this info. Ever since I tried laphet thoke at a Burmese restaurant, I've been looking for a way to buy these leaves so that I could make the salad at home. I even tried calling Burmese monasteries to see if they could help, but invariably no one knew what I was talking about.

            Because the Shwe Store website is mainly in Burmese, I didn't feel comfortable ordering online, so I called them to set up an account. They were very helpful and even suggested buying their fried beans (which i did) to go into the salad. They have plain laphet as well as a spicy one and a sour/spicy one. Their prices are reasonable and they ship quickly. I highly recommend this store for anyone in need of Burmese goods (they have non-food items as well).

            1. re: melba420

              Which leaf did you order? The regular, spicy, or sour? Any suggestions here?

              1. re: jkingsle

                I just got the regular one. It was great. I'm not sure I'd like the other types.

            2. re: marachino

              Did they go out of business? I clicked on that link and it took me to a broken page ...

            3. A source in Newark, CA: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403497

              1. Tea leaf salad comes in either seasoned tea leaf or unseasoned tea leaf. You will have to go to Burma to purchase or have someone brings from Burma for unseasoned one along with sesame seed, fried garlic, peanut, and pea. The seasoned one (mild or spicy) comes in a box and has everything you need. All you have to do is add thinly sliced cabbage and/or tomatoes(if preferred) and mix altogether. You can purchase the ready-mixed tea leaf salad at Yoma Myanmar-Thai Restaurant, 713 E. Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91755 (626)280-8655 if you are in the area.

                1. Does anyone know what happened to Shwe Store? I cant log on to the web site anymore. I use to buy alot of internet order for Burmese grocery.

                  N Calvin Han

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: calhan

                    I had the same problem, try www.mumhouse.com

                  2. I tried all of those links and I think they were all dead. And this is a VERY old post but, in case anybody is still looking for it, I did a little searching and found this one...

                    http://store.minthila.com/myanmarfood...

                    I have not ordered from them so I cannot attest to the validity of the site, or quality of product but if you scroll down the page there appear to be lots of different laphet/lephet options.

                    Hope this helps anybody looking for it, I'm considering ordering some, if I do and it comes through I'll post again.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Aundrea

                      this looks like a great store. thanks for the info.

                      i believe the other stores may have closed following the Auramine O scandal.
                      see link: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/burma...