Following up leads from DezzerSF and ThaDu, on Tuesday I decided to see what’s up at Good Luck in Newark’s Newpark Mall. Located on the same level as the food court, but on the far end near Mervyn’s, Good Luck Yogurt’s main offerings are frozen yogurt, ice cream, and confections. But it also has a small display case chockfull of packed dry goods with Burmese writing on them.
I inquired about fermented tea leaf salad, and was then asked, “regular or spicy”? The brand that DezzerSF’s friend purchases, Pin Pyo Ywet Nu, Zayan Pickled Tea Leaves, is the spicy one. I decided to go with “regular” made by Yuzana Pickled Tea. Both are $5 and include all the crispy mix-ins as well as the fermented or pickled tea leaves. The counter lady advised that I should add fresh lemon juice and dried shrimp, and a little bit of fish sauce and chili flakes, if I liked. I saw the plastic tubs of housemade balachaung (dried shrimp, garlic and chili condiment) and bought a “hot” half-pint for $4.
Image of Yuzana Laphet (Pickled Tea) package and Balachaung (hot) –
The package, made in Myanmar, is about the size of a pound bag of coffee. The back label promises “Yuzana pickled tea, round fried garlic, baked sesame, baked peanuts, fried butterfly peas, green peas, fried Australian peas, and fried gram chick peas.’
Image of back label of Yuzana pickled tea package -
Saturday I was invited to a dinner party and decided to try this it on my fellow guests. I brought along a few lemons and limes and my two purchases to compose on site.
Image of pickled tea packaged components -
My first surprise was that the pack seemed to be short a couple things. Only one kind of peas in the bag, the split yellow lentil-like legume, but not sure whether this is butterfly, green or Australian.
The part I was most curious about was the pickled tea itself, wrapped up tightly in three layers of plastic, as my only experience has been with a fully dressed salad in a restaurant. I had a taste or it unadulterated and it’s pretty strong stuff. I broke up the compacted tea leaves up with a fork and added the juice of one Eureka lemon. Tasted and found it still pretty overpowering, so added the juice of a second lemon. Still very strong, I juiced half a lime and added that with a drizzle of vegetable oil. At this point I was wishing I had picked up some salad greens to cut the concentration.
Image of plated tea leaf salad -
Just before we were ready to sit down, I mixed in all the crunchy ingredients along with a couple spoonfuls of the balachaung. Once combined, the amount of tea leaf flavor was intense but in a most agreeable way and I was glad I hadn’t added any greenery. Piled on a large dinner plate for service, it was a formidable pile, about three cups worth. I added some more balachaung on the top for color and garnished with lime wedges.
This was enough to serve 10 people as an appetizer. None of the guests had tasted this Burmese salad before. Reactions were all over the board, mostly positive, ranging from those who absolutely loved it to others who took a polite taste and said more with their silence.
One package contained about the equivalent of four orders at a restaurant. The crispy ingredients were indeed crunchy though next time I might heat them in the toaster oven to freshen them up and bring out more roasted fragrance.
I’ll be purchasing these products again. Thanks to our intrepid chowhounds for the tip.
Good Luck Yogurt
2217 Newpark Mall
(upper level, next to Mervyn’s)
Newark, CA 94560
Myanmar Business Times article on pickled tea leaf purveyors –