Tea World

Lesson 1

What is Pickled Tea?

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You may also come across the name Pickled tea. It was a form of tea made for use as a masticatory by the people of Northern Burma (Myanmar) at one time. This tea was made as a kind of silage, leaves, often wet, being packed immediately after plucking into mortar-lined pits and compressed with a movable cover heavily weighed. As harvesting proceeds, more leaf is added till the pit is full. After several months, the silage is removed, packed very tightly into woven bamboo baskets and marketed. It was also known as Letpet tea.

In Thailand also, tea has been being used in many places as beverage, chewing matter, food and drug for a long time. The traditional use of tea has been in the form of pickled tea, popularly known as Miang .It is still used by both the hill tribes and the local people of northern Thailand. The miang is prepared by steaming bundles of tea leaf putting into a wooden container with perforated base of bamboo strips and placing the same over a vessel of boiling water. The steamed leaf is then put in a cylindrical container made of bamboo basket which is covered by banana leaves and plastic sheets to prevent the contact of miang with air, which causes miang to turn an undesirable dark colour. This is called astringent miang. The other type of miang is sour miang, which is prepared from the astringent miang to ferment naturally for 1-3 months. Thereafter, the product can be stored for three years. The Thai people chew miang, the main purpose of chewing miang is for pleasure and as a stimulant for keeping awake.

In Assam, the indigenous people used to drink tea even before its discovery.Historical records indicate the prevalence of tea drinking in India since 750 BC. In the 16th century, a vegetable dish was also being prepared using tea leaves with garlic and oil. However, the credit for rediscovering tea and cultivating it at a commercial level goes to the British. The tea plants were abundantly available in the jungles of Upper Assam .The Singphoes and Khamties who came from Northern Burma (Myanmar) to Assam and settled here in the pre-historic past were well acquainted with the tea bushes and drank brew from the tea leaves. In recent times, the Singpho and Khamti tribes of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have started to prepare a traditional type of tea by putting tea leaf in a bamboo tube (Chunga) and drying it in sun.

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