Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Burmese Days

Burmese Days

Fortune Cookie

Humour is one of the best ingredients for survival.

Humour shinsaanrauttairayy aatwataakaunggsone parwainpahchcaeemyarr tait u hpyitsa.
Aung San Suu Kyi

Quite recently Singing Bird Tea took off for Myanmar.

Since independence from the British in 1948 Myanmar has largely been involved in civil war. The military dictatorship of 1962 caused Myanmar to become a paranoid, pariah state. Only in 2013 did Myanmar relax its border controls. It is a country very low in the human development index. Its international isolation is palpable. The Burmese, while quite friendly, are also sometimes threatened by foreigners. With beautiful countryside that resembles India more than South-east Asia Myanmar shows no sign yet of capitalising on it.

Buddhist Temple

The income gap in Myanmar is one of the widest in the world. To stem this the people I saw had recourse to the Betel leaf. The Betel leaf, and lots of sweet tea.

Tea in Myanmar

Tea dust is stewed in a kettle with milk, sometimes condensed milk.

The tea is aerated during the pouring process.

And there is your cup of sweet black tea.

Perhaps if the British had colonised China the Chinese would pour milk into their oolongs and red teas.

At a tea shop in the back of Kawthaung in Southern Myanmar I got a cup of local tea. Alongside the black tea were steel kettles full of hot Chinese tea as they called it.

In Myanmar it is necessary to have a guide. My guide said 'we drink Chinese tea to clear the palate, Chinese tea ... ' and he whispered, 'just hot water.' Further questions drew a blank as to its origin. The tea, from the fragments in my cup and the colour, presented like an oolong brewed with a lot of water.

Lahpet is a salad dish of various dishes in a sauce of pickled tea leaves.

The taste is, well, interesting. It is considered the national dish. 17% of Myanmar's tea harvest is eaten. The tea used here is a dark green colour - just like fresh leaves kept a long time in the fridge.

Of course this is nice tea if you like it with thick, sweetened milk and strong, black tea. There were no surprises here except that there are no spices in this tea although it looks just like Indian chai.

Fishing Village, Kawthaung.

Happy tea drinking!

No comments: