The story begins in 2015, with a man named Desmond Tan. Tan is the owner of Burma Superstar, a successful chain of award-winning Burmese restaurants in the USA, whose menus offer a colourful showcase of flavoursome Burmese cuisine. With authenticity in mind, Tan’s search for the perfect fermented tea leaves had led him to Myanmar, where he had been searching for quality tea leaves since 2012. He starting asking around Yangon to find a good source and finally met with Nelson Rweel, part of Myanmar’s tea-growing association. Rweel grew up in Namhsan, a rural township in Shan State, where tea growing and processing is the lifeblood of the ethnically Palaung community. Rweel turned out to be the key to unlocking the lahpet mystery.
In 2015, he met with Ko Tun Myaing from Ta’ang Teaworld, Shwe Pan Law Co. Ltd, and our own CEO, Myo Win Aung. Together they visited Zayan tea plantations in Namsan Township in the northern Shan State, where they encountered a number of problems with the export of tea leaves: local farmers had little organic knowledge, roads were treacherous and regional instability added trouble to the mix. And yet despite this, the trio successfully produced Myanmar’s first organic tea in 2016.