Burmese Fermented Tea Leaves [RECIPE]

February 10, 2017

Burmese Fermented Tea Leaf Salad with Mizuna, Frisee, Red Bell Pepper, Fried Peanuts, Golden Shallots, Sunflower Seeds, Soynuts, Celery, and Grilled Meyer Lemon.





It was looking unsustainable to constantly order tea leaf salad, so I decided to start making my own fermented tea leaves at home. After many a failed attempt, I finally was able to create a recipe that carried the funky flavors I loved with a little extra heat and tang. To safely ferment tea leaves these in your home, I recommend vacuum sealing the tea leaf mixture and fermenting it in your wine cooler set somewhere between 60-65F. I started by serving the tea leaves in salad, but have also successfully made it into tasty sauces (great with meaty fish!) or blended into purees to coat pasta. It's shockingly versatile! You can hear me talk about the whole process on an episode of Fuhmentaboudit! on Heritage Radio.


Burmese Style Fermented Tea Leaves


Fermented Tea Leaves

3 ½ cups cold water

½ cup rice vinegar

1 cup dry green tea leaves (I use high-quality Japanese sencha)


20g garlic

50g scallion, sliced 

30g cilantro, stemmed

6g ginger, peeled

2g galangal, grated

30g Maggi seasoning

30g fish sauce  

1 small bird’s eye chile, not seeded (optional)

40g lime juice, fresh  

1 Tbsp white sugar  

2 tsp toasted sesame oil  

1 tsp peanut oil  


1. Combine water, rice vinegar in small pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add tea leaves and remove from heat. Let steep 10 minutes. 

2. Strain tea leaves and carefully remove any twigs and stems.

3. Mash tea leaves in lukewarm water and rinse again in cold water.

4. Combine tea leaves with cold water and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

5. Strain tea leaves and thoroughly squeeze out any water using side towels.

6. Combine tea leaves with all other ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. 

7. Transfer tea leaves to vacuum pouch and seal. 

8. Ferment in a cool, dark place 3-5 days. If this is your first time, I would try the leaves after 3 days to see if you like the flavor. As it continues to ferment the flavor mellows out and becomes deeper, richer, and funkier - like wine :)


I serve my fermented tea leaves with diced red bell pepper, celery, and a mizuna & frisee mix for the greens; sesame seeds, fried peanuts (available at most ethnic markets), roasted soynuts for crunch; grilled meyer lemon for tartness; and a sweet & salty fish sauce dressing to bring it all together.




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