Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lei Cha - Pestle Tea 擂茶 also known as thunder tea?

This is a delicious drink made from ground vegetables, nuts and other nutritious ingredients. It is prepared using a pestle and mortar. The action of pounding and grinding is "lei" sounds like thunder, hence, the dish is sometimes known as "thunder tea".

Legend has it that during China's Three Kingdoms era, when General Zhang Fei (張飛) led his troops into the then capital Chengdu and was about to capture it, a plague broke out among his men. An old doctor prescribed a tea brewed from pounded sesame seeds, peanuts, tea leaves and fruit kernels. The ill soldiers recuperated soon after drinking the concoction. This recipe was handed down from generation to generation as a tonic for exhaustion and flu. Since then lei cha has been served in traditional tea ceremonies to welcome guests visiting Hakkas. This dish is is apparently the speciality of Hepo kejia (wandering guest people) from Chaozhou.
To make a savoury soup base, one could add fried anchovy, dried shrimp, pickled radish and long beans. Sometimes cooked rice is added to the soup to make a complete meal. The task of grinding all the ingredients may be daunting to the time scarce.
Nowadays, instant lei cha comes in a convenient sachet replicating the taste of the original traditional drink quite well.

I have found two flavours at the friendly grocery store nearby. There is sweet green tea or savoury (which contains salty dried vegetables) tastes captured in a packet all ready to drink by just adding hot water. If you do not have boiled water handy, simply dissolve the contents in lukewarm or room temperature water and microwave it for 20 to 40 seconds. Stir well. Alternatively, heat up the mixture on the stove gently for a few minutes.

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1 comment:

clear glass said...

I came across a very good recipe for lei cha. Worth a try.