Myanmar Tea Shop - Where Friends are Made

Just like British people love tea drinking, we Burmese people also have a penchant for tea. Teashops are an important and integral part of life in Myanmar.

As a foreigner who first arrives to Myanmar, you will be surprised to see so many teashops in Yangon and almost everywhere in Myanmar. The streets are filled with numerous tea-shops. And surprisingly, most of them are filled up with customers.

Nowhere in South-East Asia would you find such a large number of teashops. Burmese people have a saying, “sitting at teashop”. This is because we really sit at a teashop for a very long time, sometimes even hours, after ordering just one cup of tea. It’s like a national past-time activity.

The teashop may also sell some finger food to its customers.

And there is always the free flow of plain Chinese tea. You can order plain Chinese tea, in abundance, while you’re sitting at the tea-shop. The main reason, the people sit at a teashop for so long is just to sit and chat.

But there’s more to teashops than just tea and chat. Teashops are where friends meet each other; businesses are done, news and tips are exchanged and even quarrels. You can meet people and hear their local latest news/tips just by sitting at a teashop for a few moments.

The people from Kyout Pa Dong like their tea to be too sweet. You can just say ‘Kyout Pa Dong’ at a tea shop and the waiter will know what you want. He will then present you with a cup of over-the-top sweet tea.

If you want a light tea, you need to say ‘pot pot’. If you want a tea with a lot of milk, then say ‘Pot Saint’. Or if you want a strong tea just tell them ‘Kya Saint’.

There are many types of teashops in Myanmar, each having its own different and unique style. But the most popular ones are the roadside ones. They are simple and opened on a concrete slab. Small and low tables surround the tea shop where customers can sit. This is where you meet the locals. If you really want to experience Burmese way of life then you need to visit any such roadside teashop. You will definitely have a new and wonderful experience.

The most crowded timings are from 7 AM to 10AM and 6PM to 10 PM. People want to enjoy a cup of tea (Burmese Style), before they can head to work. Though, most of them are men. To break the ice and start a conversation, simply ask any Burmese man about his tea taste. He will definitely suggest you some good ones and in the process, become your friend.

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Comment by Sam Scribe on July 3, 2011 at 9:11pm
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Myanmar because I don't like the government's politics. If I ever do go there, though, I'll go directly to a tea shop, thanks to you.
Comment by José Balido on January 28, 2010 at 7:57am
Very interesting, Shwe Ei! Thanks for sharing this bit of your country's culture!

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