When the British colonized Myanmar in the early 1800s, they brought with them many customs, including afternoon tea. To this day, the activity is popular in cities such as Yangon, where tea shops are as prevalent as the colonial-era buildings that still stand as evidence of a bygone time.
Visit the iconic Strand hotel and you’ll think you’ve been transported to an age when aristocratic women gathered in grand spaces to gossip, snack on exquisite cakes, tarts and biscuits and, of course, sip tea.
But there’s a lot to like about Yangon’s tea shops, as well. In particular, local favorites such as: Shwe Yi, Lat Ywe Sin and the superbly named Modern Tea Shop.
Shwe Yi is located near Myaynigone Junction, about a 10-minute drive from Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s most famous landmark. It’s in a small but very busy lane tucked between restaurants and shops of all kinds.
“I like it because it not only sells tea but a variety of snacks and traditional Burmese dishes,” says Mr. Ye Thi Ha, our Myanmar Travel Specialist. Ye recommends trying Bein Mont (a kind of rice pancake) and Kyaukpadaung Palartar (a noodle soup served with fresh garlic, chili and mint leaves).
Lat Ywe Sin is on Sule Pagoda Road, opposite the old Central Fire Station. The shop was redesigned a year ago, but retained its beautifully carved wood screens. It’s also no ordinary tea shop, in that it’s famous for its coffee.
“You’ll know it from the moment you walk in, too,” says Ha. “It smells like freshly brewed java. They also make a mean Mousseline cake (made of rice and coconut milk), which undoubtedly contributes to the fact this shop is always very busy.”
Modern Tea Shop makes for a great stop between Chaukhtatgyi Reclining Buddha and Kandawgyi Park, Ha says. Its tea makers are a big reason why. “They are so skilled, they often inspire tourists to get out their cameras to take pictures,” he says.
To learn more about Yangon’s tea shops or the city in general, contact Ye directly, right now.