Thunder Tea refers to the green soup accompanying the rice.
My first encounter with Thunder Tea Rice isn’t a pleasant one. My first sip had a herbal taste too strong for my own liking that I couldn’t take a second spoon of the foul green soup. While I can’t pinpoint what Thunder Tea Rice should taste like, I would also probably be wrong in telling you what it is supposed to taste like. The first reason is because I have only eaten it twice (this stall being the second). The second is that Lei Cha/Lui Cha/Thunder Tea doesn’t have a specified recipe, but is a generalised method for making a soup/beverage consisting of:
- Tea Leaves
- Nuts or Seeds or Legumes
- Other ingredients like grains, flavorings, Chinese herbs
I would wager that the first one I tasted was a more authentic version with the full herbal kick, meant to deter away the non-hardcore foodies and Thunder Tea noobs. But the stall I am writing about today has a more beginner friendly version of Lei Cha. So beginner friendly, that in the 505 Jurong West hawker centre, it has one of the longer, if not the longest queue on the day I went to eat from my observation.
Traditional Hakka Lui Cha – S$3.50
- +S$0.50 for brown rice option
- +S$1.00 for more vegetables
- +S$1.00 for more tea
- S$1.50 for only the tea
- Not written on the menu, but someone in front of me added egg for S$0.80
The rice bowl is topped with pickled radishes/turnips (cai po), peanuts, chopped long beans, cabbage, tofu and more greens.
Two ways to eat this meal. Either eat the rice and tea separately, or you can pour the soup/tea into the rice bowl and mix everything together.
Lei Cha down here is surprisingly savory, but very mild in terms of herbiness, with a strong scent of basil and nutty fragrance. Due to the ingredients, it reminded me of pesto, which is also basically fresh herbs and nuts grinded. Fresh cilantro is topped and wilted in the soup, giving it a citrusy, minty taste. The finish of the soup is however, very grainy and coarse, due to the sediments of the ingredients laying on the bottom.
Each of the ingredients are very simply prepared, with adequate seasonings and very mild natural flavors. Taste of the rice bowl, when mixed, consists almost entirely of the pickled radishes, which give each bite a salty, savory burst. Without the radishes, it can be expected that most people would find this too bland.
Overall, this is not a flavor packed dish, being very one note in its flavor profile. However, it is very unique and I recommend people who want to try Thunder Tea give this milder version a try.
Rating for Traditional Hakka Lui Cha
I rate food based on how far I am willing to travel, as well as whether I think the price I paid for it justifies it. You can read more about why here.
Would I travel all the way here specifically just to eat a more beginner friendly version of a dish? Not really.
Some people might look at this meal and think “S$3.50 for vegetables and no meat???” but for me, it is hard to say that this is not worth it, especially since Lei Cha is also relatively hard to find in hawker centers.
But I’m just a fat boi… What do other people think?
Not many people talk about the stall, or even Lei Cha in general.
Google Reviews – only 3, but all positive.