Myanmar's Edible Tea industry
Tea factory workers sort different grades of tea, removing any unwanted bits. The tea is already pickled after having fermenting for many months. It is then sorted and stuffed in to sacks for distribution.
Myanmar differs from all other tea producing nations because the majority of tea produced here is eaten rather than drunk. Fermented in large box's or holes in the ground holding several tonnes and left for anywhere between 3 to 6 months the final product is mixed with onions, chillis, garlic for example producing a Burmese style salad or added to other dishes for flavour creating an industry that is worth millions of dollars every year. Termed 'laphet' in Burmese, this pickled tea is not only unique to the country but is also one of the most important national delicacy's.
The epicentre of Myanmar's tea is a small ridge-topped town called Namshan in Shan State and is inhabited by the Palaung ethnic minority. Believed to be the place where tea seeds were first given to the local people by a Burmese king who had brought them from abroad around 800 years ago. The best pickled tea in the country is made here and almost everyone in the town is invoilved in the industry that every year sends thousands of tonnes of pickled tea to Mandalay and Yangon.