The Traditional Beverage of Myanmar - The Palm Wine a.k.a. The Htan Yay

2020-07-23edit Philips

If someone asks what the beverage of Frances, it would most probably be wine, as Germany would have its whiskey, and Poland their vodka. So what about Myanmar? I proudly present to all the Palm Wine.

What is Palm Wine?


There are two kinds of palm wine - the bitter one and the sweet one. The sweet palm wine is the one we get from the initial stages of extracting the palm wine, also known as the Htan Oo Yay. For the bitter one, we get it after fermenting the initial one during noontime.


The bitter palm wine comes from the fibrous matted substances that are gathered from the drippings of sweet palm juices at the top of the tree. An earthen pot filled with sediment from the bitter palm wine is known as Akhar Oh. You can get a stronger taste of bitterness from the palm wine if fermented longer. Every gender can enjoy this traditional beverage.


The palm tree has two kinds: both male and female. You can get the palm wine from both, but the male one can produce slightly more product than the female one. In order to get the palm wine, we have to slice the spadix of the tree from which the sap is tapped. After that, the palm wine can be gathered with a ground pot or a cylindrical bamboo capsule. Up towards the middle parts of the country, such as the Anyar region, earthen pots are mostly used. In the lower regions, cylindrical bamboo capsules are used more frequently.


Regions where Palm Wine can be Commonly Found 


The Anyar regions and the Mandalay divisions are popular places for palm wine. Also, they can be found within the heart of Myanmar, such as the land of Bagan. One of the fascinating facts about Bagan would be the sceneries of palm trees standing tall beside the roads, as well as all the nearby palm wine shops.


Palm wine shops were quite popular in the past, but now I believe that their popularity has decreased amongst the bars and beer shops. But you can still find shops serving palm wine in some of the parts of Myanmar, including Yangon. These days, palm wine is packed in bottles and boxes, and then sold as a traditional product.


The Benefits of Palm Wine

The sweet palm wine is as sweet as sugar, but it is not quite suitable for drinking large quantities of in a single round. You can also consume it little by little for your health. There are even some claims that palm wine can also protect against cancer, and it can also improve one’s eyesight. According to local doctors, it can also improve your skin, hair, and nails.


How to Drink Palm Wine


There is a saying that goes like, “If you are to have some palm wine and fish paste, make it unknown”. The palm wine is usually enjoyed with some fish paste, dried fish, fried quail and fried snipe - a kind of bird. You shouldn’t drink a lot of palm wine for your very first try. Make sure that you take a small taste of palm wine first with a small cup or the hard shell of a coconut, which is often used as a cup in the Anyar region. This way, you can be certain to enjoy the authentic taste of the palm wine while eating some other appetizers.

The palm wine is also known as a kind of traditional beverage. If you haven’t tasted it yet, I urge you to go on a trip to the land of palm trees and have a sip of some palm wine.

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