Burmese sweet tea: Lapae yea

You never have to walk far in Myanmar to find a teashop. There is one on almost every street corner. Crowded and noisy from dawn until after dinner time. I frequented tea shops several times a day. Whenever I saw an interesting shop I took it as an excuse to have a break, drink tea and watch people. After awhile I learnt not only to ask for ‘lapae yea’ (sweet tea), but for ‘lapae yea pancho’ – which translated means (or so I was led to believe after being told by locals) a very strong and sweet tea.

Teashops are the best place for breakfast, second breakfast, tea time and after dinner snacking.

I favoured traditional teashops with miniature plastic stools and small tables. People (mostly men) do business there all day long, read newspapers, smoke, watch TV in the evenings (lots of Burmese and Korean drama and football) and chat.

Tea is served by young boys but made only by the owner or person in charge of the shop. Another person deals with handling money.

At the same time as tea is served, a plate full of snacks (fried stick of dough, paratha, or roti with sugar) is usually brought by one of the tea boys. Snacks are just as sweet as the tea. You can eat as many as you like, or don’t. In the end, the waiter counts the number of buns left and charges you for what was eaten.

BurmeseTeaOn every table is a pot or large flask (thermos) of Chinese tea (very watered down but free flowing and included so no complainng here) – it’s used to wash down the crazily sweet burmese tea. I guess is it is similar to the practice of serving a glass of water with an espresso.


BurmeseTeaStrong black tea with lots of condensed milk and sugar. Usually there was 0.5 centimeter of condensed milk at the bottom of the tiny cup, sometimes up to 1 centimeter! For a condensed milk lover like me.. bliss!

BurmeseTeaBoys chatting while drinking tea.

BurmeseTeaCup of sweet tea with some freshly deep fried veggies.

BurmeseTeaCool customer.

BurmeseTeaPancakes with freshly grated coconut.


BurmeseTeaLapae yea take away! Who needs a cup when plastic bags can be used for everything?! Every shop sells take away tea. We saw tea boys run out with whole bunch of plastics bags with hot tea to deliver them. Bartek and I got our take away bags with very hot and sweet liquid on one of the train stations.

BurmeseTeaSome of the shops are very busy, I usually looked for ones with big woks and a fireplace in front because that meant that they had some freshly made snacks.

BurmeseTeaWatching TV.


BurmeseTeaMy absolute favourite! Deep fried donuts with coconut filling. Delicious. I found it in several teashops in and around Mandalay. Reminded me of Polish donuts (paczki) filled with wild rose petal jam.




BurmeseTeaSometimes not only teashop but a bar too.

BurmeseTeaCan never get enough. I was lucky that during the photography workshop Sarah was happy to have tea often and later Bartek got as addicted to it as much as me.


2 thoughts on “Burmese sweet tea: Lapae yea

  1. What lovely photos! I have been to Myanmar, but don’t recall having this tea. I think I had something similar in Vietnam though with all the condensed milk. Yum!

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