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Remembering U San Maung

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Here at Burma Superstar, we’re very saddened to hear of U San Maung’s passing, who we affectionately call U Lay. He was the beloved father of Ko Myo Win Aung, our tea partner in Burma. To say he will be missed is an understatement as he left a legacy behind him that will endure the ages. 

Over three decades ago, U Lay started in the industry as a tea broker from Mandalay. A true pioneer, he cultivated the first partnership with the Palaung tribe of tea farmers in the remote mountains of the Shan State and brought the highly sought after fermented tea leaves to the greater Burmese people in Mandalay and Yangon. On one of our visits with U Lay, he recalled the hardships of traveling by caravan of donkeys from Namhsan to Mandalay with 50lb burlap sacks of tea leaves when he started. Back then the roads were narrow, treacherous, and undeveloped, and cars were unable to make the trip, but he persisted and built what now is Shan Shwe Taung, the largest producers of fermented tea leaves in Burma. 

On our last trip in October, U Lay spoke with a conviction and alertness that belied his years, when he said, “A lot of everyday people rely on our laphet for their meals and daily sustenance.” We have learned so much about the tea business from our time spent with U Lay and Ko Myo. Each visit, they welcomed us like family to their home, presented us with laphet and an assortment of goodies from tea leaf with hot jasmine rice to fresh-pressed tropical juices, and shared many meals. We’re touched by his continued generosity in giving and in spirit, and we are honored to have been a student of his wisdom and hard work. He will forever be remembered as our Godfather of tea leaves. May he rest in peace.

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