'Lahpet' is Burmese for fermented or pickled tea. Myanmar is one of very few countries where tea is eaten as well as drunk . More interestingly Lahpet was an ancient symbolic peace offering between warring kingdoms in the history of Myanmar, and was exchanged and consumed after settling a dispute !
The fermenting process traditionally used is long and complicated .
Young leaves are packed into bamboo vats set in pits and pressed by heavy weights; the fermentation process is checked at intervals and the pulp may occasionally require re-steaming. Today you buy the stuff ready made ( if you happen to be in Myanmar / Singapore areas ! ) or ferment the leaves at home with equally good results.
To ferment the leaves , take 5-6 tablespoons of green tea leaves ,cut them into half , wash and soak in hot water for 2-3 hours till they expand and are soft . Sqeeze out all water and marinade the leaves in 4 tablespoons of sesame oil (peanut oil also an option ) , 1 tablespoon each ginger and garlic paste , salt and juice of 1 lemon .For an extra bite - 2 Green chilies pounded cab be mixed into the tea leaves while marinating . Cover the dish tightly ( cling wrap ! ) and leave it to ferment 2 days in a closed space like a cupboard . The fermented leaves are ready to be used in your salad , or even eaten with boiled rice !
For The Salad
Fermented Green Tea Leaves ( with the oil / paste )
2/3d Large Head Cabbage ( cut 1 " long - and fine ).
3 Large Red Tomatoes ( remove seeds and cut like cabbage )
4 Tablespoons Roasted Peanuts.
4 Tablespoons Roasted And Then Fried Chickpeas.
4 Tablespoons Roasted Sesame Seeds.
10 Thick Garlic Pods ( sliced into thin discs and fried crisp ).
1/2 Cup Toasted Pumpkin Seeds ( Whole Foods in India sells them )
1/2 Cup Deep Fried Butter Beans ( Indian option is Sem / Lima Beans . If still not available increase the other nuts/seeds)
Mix all the above with the fermented teal leaves - adjust flavors and serve . Try NOT to assemble the salad in advance , but at the time of serving .
This is a fantastic combination of textures and flavors .The fermented leaves taste amazing. This slaw-type salad has slight crunch and a slightly sweet-sour taste. It can be mixed in with rice for a quick meal or used as a side at just about any meal.
In this vegetarian version I haven't used fish sauce , shrimp or shrimp paste and its pretty much what the original tasted like in Myanmar . You can make and keep the fermented green tea leaves for a long time , taking out batches as and when needed .