Betel Chewing in Myanmar

Betel is an evergreen Indo-Malayan climbing or trailing shrub (Piper betel), having usually ovate leaves used to wrap betel nuts. In the ancient days, the Myanmar people usually showed their hospitality by serving kunhsay-laphet (betel, tobacco and tea) to the guests. Their idea was to show warmness to the outsiders and to become more friendly while chewing and talking. It was a kind of an entertainment at that time. The betel leaves and the nuts were all served together in a lacquer ware box especially made for it.

Traditional culture and custom require that guests be offered these three items regardless of whatever other food or delicacies may have been proffered. Kun or betel takes pride of place among these three “musts” and to this day a betel box is placed before guests in many homes.

The hospitality of the Myanmar were incomplete without the serving of betel nuts and leaves.


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