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  • Harry Carr-Ellison

TEA CULTURE IN MYANMAR

Tea has been cultivated in Myanmar for centuries, and is intrinsic to Burmese life. Bustling tea shops are found around every corner, and a free pot of tea is sat on your table at most restaurants.

As a significant part of Myanmar’s agriculture and society, tea has become embedded to such an extent that today it can be said to be the national beverage. It is drunk before, during and after meals, offered when receiving guests and even eaten as a meal or a snack.


In truth, it is very hard to avoid tea in some form when going about your day in Myanmar.


Perhaps the most distinctive quality of Burmese tea culture are the teashops. Be it roadside tea shops, standalone stalls or outlets housed in concrete structures, you are never that far from a cuppa in Myanmar. Tea shops are conspicuous on every street, in nearly every corner, by every roadside, in both rural and urban settings.



Teashops are the bedrock of social life in Myanmar. From the crack of dawn until twilight, the Burmese spend hours at a time in teashops: gossiping with friends, chatting, laughing, reading newspapers and playing on phones. Artists have sat in the teashop to create masterpieces and political activist have congregated in them to debate and pontificate. It was not for nothing that the former US Ambassador said that in Myanmar “all important words” start in teashops.


In addition to tasty snacks like Ei Kwar Kway (pictured below - our favourite - a kind of long deep fried doughnut), Samosas and Mohinga (a national dish and staple in Myanmar - a rice noodle fish broth) there is a fantastic range of black teas, all varying in strength and amounts of condensed milk, the most popular being 'lahpet yeh'. We personally can't get enough of this delicious sweet tea.


Teashops are usually busiest in the morning for an early breakfast and after 5PM when most people finish work and come to tune into the football playing on a tv in the corner.


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