Healthy Thunder Tea Rice (Lei Cha)

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Thunder tea rice

Thunder tea rice

I would love to share this wonderful dish, very healthy, nutritious and delicious. With so many herbs and vegetables, it’s one that is very good for health. It is high in fibre too.I usually cook it once a week, during the weekend. My children always help with the herbs and cutting up the vegetables. This dish came from the Hakka people, one of the many Chinese ethnic groups. It is called ‘lei cha‘ in their dialect. Translated, it’s called ‘thunder tea‘. How interesting! I was told that the Hakka people cook this after Chinese New Year to clean out the system after all the eating and drinking.

I was first introduced to this food by a Chinese lady many years ago. She invited us to her house for this. The table was full of dishes of green vegetables, finely chopped and cooked. There was also peanuts and tofu. We were each served some rice in a bowl. We topped it with whatever vegetables that we like. Then we scooped the hot soup over it. We fell in love with it immediately. I learned that the soup was boiled from ground anchovies, groundnuts, sesame seeds, ground herbs and tea.

Mint and coriander

Mint and coriander

Basil and parsley

Basil and parsley

Cooking this dish overseas, especially here in Aberdeen, Scotland, is almost close to impossible because I can’t get the full range of fresh herbs and secondly I can’t get all the vegetables that we like. Maybe it’s because I don’t know where to get them. But I have finally come out with my own simplified version of this ‘thunder tea rice‘ that my family likes very much. 4 herbs and 2 vegetables are enough to do the trick. Even my daughter who hates vegetables also like it very much!

It’s quite a lot of work cooking this but it’s worth all the effort. My version is actually a lot easier and quicker to cook. Of course you can add in more ingredients if you like. Things will be a lot easier if you are not a perfectionist like me…haha. I don’t use so many different types of vegetables, usually only 2 or 3. The vegetables that I cut are not that finely sliced, too, and I used my masticating juicer to grind all the herbs. To make things quicker I use 2 or 3 pots to cook all the vegetables at the same time.

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients A
2 whole chicken legs
Chinese tea leaves

Put the chicken legs into a pot. Add water and bring to boil. Continue to boil under low fire for about an hour. You can cook the rice at the same time. I use Jasmine tea as I love the smell. But you can use any Chinese tea.

Ingredients B
green beans

Stir fried leeks

Stir fried leeks

Stir fried fried green beans

Stir fried fried green beans

Wash and cut the leeks and green beans finely. You can use other green leafy vegetables, too, like lettuce, mustard leaves etc, but my family loves these 2 the most. Pan fry them separately with some fried garlic oil and season it with some sea salt. I love it simple.

Ingredients C

Ingredients E (seasoning)
chicken stock
fried shallot or garlic oil

Minced herbs

Minced herbs

Wash and remove the hard stems of the herbs if there are any. Blend them. I pass them all through my masticating juicer which grinds them very fine. I used quite a lot of each type. Use the amount that’s comfortable to you.

Make a jar of Chinese tea from the Chinese tea leaves in Ingredients A when you are about to blend the herbs. Make sure the soup is boiling. For your info, don’t seep the tea too long, about 5-10 minutes would do. More than that the leaves will start to release tannin which makes the tea bitter. Tannin is bad for health. That explains why Chinese tea in Chinese restaurants tastes awful after sometime. So, adjust the timing yourself when to make this tea.

Thunder tea rice soup

Thunder tea rice soup

Once the herbs are blended, add to the chicken soup and give it a quick boil and turn off the fire. Pour in the hot Chinese tea (without the leaves) and add the chicken stock and fried shallot or garlic oil to taste. The soup will be green in colour. I love that fresh, green look.

Thunder tea rice to add soup

Thunder tea rice to add soup

To serve, put some rice into a bowl, add some fried green beans and leeks and pour the soup over the rice and enjoy. Adjust seasoning according to your taste. You can add some fried shallots or garlic for extra flavour.

I must say this is my top favourite, healthy one-bowl meal. We always have a big bowl each. A friend of mine likes it so much that he always has 2 big bowls!

Have you tried this? Do you have a favourite one-bowl, healthy meal to share? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.

Some of my other favourite healthy recipes that you may like:
How To Make Korean Kimchi
Healthy, Humble, Sweet Potatoes
Thai Mango Salad By Hubby On New Year 2010
Pineapple And Cucumber Salad

Quote of the day……

“We squander health
In search of wealth;
We scheme and toil, and save,
Then squander wealth
In search of health;
And all we get is the grave;

We live and boast of what we own;
We die . . . and only get a stone.”


Keep Learning Keep Smiling

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anncoo  on July 26th, 2010

Wah..Mary! You cooked this at home! Like a lot of work with many ingredients in it but yours look so simple. This ‘Lei Cha’is very popular now in Singapore. There are always long queue during lunch time at the ‘Lei Cha’store.

Cheah  on July 26th, 2010

Hey, this Hakka Thunder Tea is quite popular here in Ipoh. I’ve not acquired the taste for it because I find that my jaws get very tired from chewing and chewing! It’s very healthy though!

Shirley  on July 26th, 2010

Love the idea of mixed herbs.

the lacquer spoon  on July 26th, 2010

This is very new info, how interesting! Well, Japanese has tea (Ocha-zuke) rice too, but in a simpler way. We sometimes eat rice in hot green (or other) tea with some relishes, after drink or in need of light meals :)

Priya  on July 26th, 2010

Very new dish, looks interesting and yummy..

3hungrytummies  on July 26th, 2010

This is bringing back good memories. I used to eat this quite a bit in Kuching.

Angie's Recipes  on July 26th, 2010

That’s totally new to me…so nutritious and healthy!

Mary  on July 26th, 2010

@anncoo - Yes…..cos miss it so much! :D Lots of work that’s why have to simplify it. It’s very popular in Sarawak too. Guess people try to eat more healthy these days. Aha, maybe I should start a stall here ….haha :D

@Cheah - Looks like it’s popular all over the place! My version is very easy to eat….little hard chewing….no hard peanuts to chew :D

@Shirley - Thanks very much, Shirley! :D

@the lacquer spoon - Oooh…I must try with green tea too. I can simplify it even further :D Thanks very much for sharing!

@Priya - Thanks very much, Priya! :D

@3hungrytummies - Time to cook on your side now :D Do a simplified one like mine. Maybe you have more herbs and vegetables there.

@Angie’s Recipes - Thanks very much, Angie! :D Give a try. It’s very delicious.

busygran  on July 26th, 2010

Totally healthy! I love eating it but don’t cook it cos I’m the only one who eats this. So sometimes I buy but it’s not cheap.

Treat and Trick  on July 26th, 2010

Very interesting and delicious one pot meal but it is unknown to me though….

Treat and Trick  on July 26th, 2010

Very interesting and delicious one pot meal but it is unknown to me though….

Nasi Lemak Lover  on July 26th, 2010

what a healthy meal you having there.this remind me the Lei Cha paste I made earlier is finished, need to make some.

Choclette  on July 26th, 2010

This sounds really good and how unusual to use tea in soup - very interesting. I’ve just used tea in cake, which I also found rather unusual, but very nice.

kristy  on July 26th, 2010

Mary, I’ve tried this once but not fond of it. I think you missed out the roasted crashed peanut & sesame seeds. You need those to give you extra flavouring. My In-laws are Hakka but never make ‘Lei Chai’! Funny huh! haha… Hope you’re enjoying your day, dear.
Cheers, Kristy

Olive  on July 26th, 2010

HI Mary! :)

I’ve never heard of this before, sounds interesting, I love healthy recipes, I’m saving this one for future trying.. that fresh tea leaves or can I just use tea bags?

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Rochelle (Acquired Taste)  on July 26th, 2010

I’ve got to put this on my list of soups to make during the colder months! Most of the food we eat during the winter are so hearty, that something like this will be a great change.

Belinda @zomppa  on July 26th, 2010

Wow - a creative way to use tea! Would love to try this.

penny aka jeroxie  on July 26th, 2010

I had this for the first time this year and love it! But so much chopping. I think that is what makes it special :)

Drick  on July 26th, 2010

very, very interesting Mary, and yes, this is so good for you with all the vegetables … the flavors must be awesome with the chicken base…

Roti n Rice  on July 26th, 2010

Interesting…I just only heard of this dish recently but did not get to try it. At least I get a glimpse of what it looks like here. Thanks for sharing :)

The Little Teochew  on July 26th, 2010

Oh Mary, you made this?! Amazing! I think this is a dish which you either love or hate, and although I have never eaten it, I am always fascinated by it. :)

Ananda  on July 26th, 2010

healthy and interesting post, book marking it, thanks for sharing!

claire  on July 26th, 2010

yes, lui cha is a hakka dish.. but i dont really take that.. but i think i should.. as a antitoxic. my body needs that :)

Lazaro  on July 26th, 2010

Magnificent soup. Love all the flavors at work here. Beautiful color as well.

lequan@luvtoeat  on July 26th, 2010

I’ve never heard of this, sounds very interesting. You make it look so simple but this is probably way out of my league…teehee. Everytime I read your blog, I understand more and more why you chose the title you did :-D. Thank you for sharing this interesting recipe Mary!

Ivy @ My Simple Food  on July 26th, 2010

Interesting recipe!! So healthy too!

Sushma Mallya  on July 26th, 2010

Very unique name and very interesting dish…

Mary  on July 26th, 2010

@busygran - It’s sure no fun to eat alone. Great that you can buy there :D

@Treat and Trick - Now you can give it a try :D

@Nasi Lemak Lover - Oh…you can make the paste?? That’s new to me. I should make and freeze it maybe. Thanks very much for sharing :D

@Choclette - Thanks very much. I thought it interesting too. I have never used tea in cakes. Would love to try one day. Thanks very much for sharing :D

@kristy - Oh, Kristy, give another try. It’s an acquired taste for some. Its very healthy. Hope you will like it. I would love to try adding sesame seeds and groundnuts next time. But that’s more work bah :P Now I wonder why your Hakka in-laws do not make this while non Hakka like me enjoy it…haha :D

@Olive - Lovely to know you like healthy recipes too :D I don’t use tea bags. I use dried Chinese tea leaves. Hope you like it.

@Rochelle (Acquired Taste) - This is good for cleansing and nutrition. Hope you like it. Have fun cooking :D

@Belinda @zomppa - Thanks very much, Belinda! Have fun cooking :D

@penny aka jeroxie - There’s sure so much work to the real thing that’s why I make a very simplified version so that I can eat often :D I need I think more patience :P

@Drick - Haha…I sure need it for better health and to keep my waistline! :D

@Roti n Rice - Hope you get to try the real thing one day. But in the mean time you can try this very simplified one which is quite easy to cook and yet very delicious too. :D

@The Little Teochew - Haha…craving can drive a person to better cooking :D I have lots more craving, so lots more learning and cooking :P Give a try. Heard it’s very popular in Singapore.

@Ananda - Thanks very much, Ananda! Have fun cooking :D

@claire - Yes, I think you should :D Give a few more attempts. I’m sure you will soon acquire the taste and like it. Or do a simplified version like mine to start off.

@Lazaro - Thanks very much, Lazaro! :D

@lequan@luvtoeat - I want to eat so badly but yet afraid of the amount of work in the preparation so I just simplify it…still very delicious though :D Still lots of craving and lots more to learn…haha Hope you have much fun in cooking and blogging!

@Ivy @ My Simple Food - Thanks very much, Ivy! :D

@Sushma Mallya - Thanks very much, Sushma! :D

elra  on July 26th, 2010

always lovely to learn a new cuisine through your blog. Thanks Mary :)

lisa ng  on July 26th, 2010

It’s the magical soup from the secret Forest made by a lovely potion lady named Mary :)
I never heard of this wonderful soup and i loved that you served with rice. I can’t wait to make this . This reminds me of watercress soup but more special. Thanks again Mary !
CookNg Sisters

Juliana  on July 26th, 2010

What an interesting soup…never had anything like this…would love to give a try :-)

World Wide News Flash  on July 26th, 2010

Keep Learning Keep Smiling » Healthy Thunder Tea Rice (Lei Cha)…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

mycookinghut  on July 26th, 2010

This is very interesting! I have never had lei cha before nor have I heard of it before too! But, it looks like the kind of comfort food for me and healthy!

pigpigscorner  on July 26th, 2010

This is a Hakka dish I believe. I’m usually not a huge fan of veg but I LOVE this. I only have this whenever I go back to Malaysia as it’s really impossible to cook such spread of veg.

Mary  on July 26th, 2010

@elra - Awww….thanks very much Elra! So lovely to hear that. I’m learning from you too :D

@lisa ng - Haha….absolutely interesting description….smiling very big here! :D This is really healthy. Give a try. Lisa, get all your sisters around to help! :D Kids would enjoy helping with the herbs.

@Juliana - When I first tried it, I actually thought what a weird thing people eat. Now I must eat it every week if I can! Looks like now I am weird…LOL :D

@mycookinghut - Give a try. You may like it, at least for it’s health benefits :D I guess eating this more often will keep us young too :D

@pigpigscorner - Make it simpler like me. I just can’t wait to go back to Malaysia to eat…..just too long to wait :P The ones in Malaysia is usually not as green so I think I still prefer mine……freshly made :D I only wish there’s someone to cook for me every time…hehe

Cenwen  on July 26th, 2010

Hello Mary:)

I had to go through google translate to understand everything! But I’m glad I did it! :) This is a great recipe, full of good things and love:)

Thank you for sharing!

I still have not finished my computer back in service, (it will take a long time to scan all the files I could get) but there is one thing that always happen before my geek side*: the people I love;) and you are part! :)

*And besides, I worked on my blog to post a new function for you to be less disoriented. I coded a sequence that the title of the blog posts to be accessible by a single “click”, as on your blog:) This will be effective in September with the new look:)


Faith  on July 26th, 2010

What a healthy soup! I love all the herbs in there, I bet it’s so full of flavor!

tigerfish  on July 26th, 2010

It must be quite a challenge to make this at home! You make me want to make it too but there are just too many steps! :O

Julie Lynn  on July 26th, 2010

Hmm, all those lovely greens with rice. Sounds wonderful. I’m going to remember this recipe for when we get to Thailand. I’m sure I’ll be able to find many greens and herbs there. =)

Cook with Madin  on July 26th, 2010

Lovely soup, the colors, flavors and all the ingredients. I love soup anytime, this will be another addition to my list.

somewhere in singapore  on July 26th, 2010

Have not tried this b4…

Blackswan  on July 26th, 2010

I’ve seen Thunder Tea Rice but just don’t have the guts to try this greeny stuff. Wonder how it tastes like? Maybe will give this a try one day :)

rebecca  on July 26th, 2010

oh looks great and so cute your kids help you make it

Magic of Spice  on July 26th, 2010

I have never heard of this soup, but it sounds and looks amazing:)

Jess @ Bakericious  on July 26th, 2010

I ate this once many yrs ago which was prepared by my excolleague’s mum. According to her it is quite tedious to make

Kristen  on July 27th, 2010

There are so many healthy ways of eating that I learn from other bloggers. This dish is new to me, but I can see that it would be very, very tasty. Thank you for sharing it.

noobcook  on July 27th, 2010

I’ve yet to try this Hakka dish before … yours look really healthy and delicious with all those greens :)

Mary  on July 27th, 2010

@Cenwen - That’s so wonderful to hear that you understand everything through google translate :D I find google translate very useful. I use it often too. Thanks very much for your lovely compliment :D Oh no, I really hope all your files can be retrieved. It’s really so sad. But I’m really so happy that you are adding more functions to your blog. I hope to be able to leave comments, too. I have tried but failed each time. I love all your recipes. You cook and bake very well. Have fun and do take care. Muuuuuaaaak!

@Faith - Thanks very much, Faith! :D Give a try. It’s healthy and delicious.

@tigerfish - It’s quite a lot of work but with some help it’s quick easy too. Has to be a family project….haha :D

@Julie Lynn - Oh yes, you will have fun cooking this in Thailand. I’m sure you can get more herbs and vegetables there. Julie, you are going to have lots of fun cooking there. Lots of food to enjoy too :D

@Cook with Madin - Thanks very much, Madin! Have fun cooking :D

@somewhere in singapore - Give a try. Heard it’s very popular in Singapore. It’s good for health :D

@Blackswan - Shirley, give a try. It’s very delicious. Maybe for some it’s an acquired taste. I find it quite addictive. It’s amazing how much I can eat :D

@rebecca - Haha…my kids have to help if they want to eat…and a quicker dinner too :D

@Magic of Spice - Give a try for taste and health :D My family likes it very much.

@Jess @ Bakericious - Yes, the real thing is very tedious but I have simplified it to make it easy to cook so that we will eat it more often :D

@Kristen - It’s fun to be a food blogger :D Like you I have learned a lot from other bloggers. This is one of my top family favourite. Give a try. It’s a healthy meal in a bowl.

Sophie  on July 27th, 2010

Hello Mary!!

What a lovely meal this is!! So special too!
Healthy & tasty at the same time!!

Kisses from Brussels!

Joanne  on July 27th, 2010

This must be so tasty with all of the fresh herbs! I love how green and murky it is.

chefchong  on July 27th, 2010

Hi Mary. I am happy to see Lei Cha or Lui Cha on your blog. Well, I made it for friends on my birthday few days ago here in San Francisco. I am Hopoh Hakka, Lui Cha is our favourite traditional festive food. We dont use chicken broth, just hot boiling water, enough flavor from the herbs and vegetables once all put together in a bowl. I hope your followers would try this at home, the simple way.

Mary  on July 27th, 2010

@Sophie - Thanks very much, Sophie! :D Hope you have a wonderful day.

@Joanne - It is very delicious and healthy. The green does look very refreshing to the eyes :D Hope you will give a try when you have time.

@chefchong - I am happy that I can cook this here even though it’s just a very simple one :D Whah…you made this for your friends on your birthday?? My stress will shoot sky high if I do that….haha. Yes, I used chicken soup just for more nutrients :P Next time I will make the real vegetarian one. Hope more people will learn to cook and eat this wonderful, healthy food.

XiaoYen  on July 27th, 2010

I remember this dish very, very vaguely in my childhood years. My parents don’t make this at all. I think it was my grandma who made this. Sounds like a like work goes into making this rice soup which I totally don’t mind at all.

Ellie (Almost Bourdain)  on July 27th, 2010

I heard a lot of this hakka dish but never get to make it because some of the herbs are impossible to find here. Looks great.

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Elin  on July 27th, 2010

I have to learn how to eat this hakka rice. Ipoh quite famous for it but I have yet to try them out :)
Great that you have shared the recipe here…will try to make this one day :) Thanks Mary for sharing the recipe.

citronetvanille  on July 28th, 2010

Hi Mary, I didn’t know you were back! hope all is well and hope the wedding was a success (I know it was), I just love this green soup, it’s filled with so many wonderful ingredients!

nisha  on July 28th, 2010

Very Interesting recipe

Sarah, Maison Cupcake  on July 28th, 2010

That sounds great… good that you could simplify it for what you had available. UK supermarkets are not great for herbs, those flaccid little bags!

Mary  on July 28th, 2010

@XiaoYen - Yes, worth the time and effort. I’m glad my family likes it and they are happy to help :D You can give this a try, maybe a simple one like mine.

@Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Same here…can’t get all the herbs. But I’m happy that the 4 herbs that I use work well here. Maybe you can try with whatever herbs that you can find there. It’s worth a try. I’m glad that I did :D

@Elin - Oh…Elin, you really should give it a try. I wish I can just go out and eat at the shop sometimes. But since everyone at home likes it, its more worth and fresh to cook ourselves. Give a try and hope you like it :D

@citronetvanille - Yes, am back! Everything went very well. Think my holiday mood is not over yet…still quite lazy to cook :P This is a very lovely, healthy dish. I think you will like it. You can omit the chicken soup and use some vegetarian stock.

@nisha - Thanks very much, Nisha! :D

@Sarah, Maison Cupcake - Agree with you that sometimes the herbs are not fresh at all. I think I better start planting my own herbs :D I’m actually really glad that I can find a few suitable ones for cooking this dish.

Sidney  on July 28th, 2010

lei cha is good for health not is not good for me…i can’t take it as it is too green when i put into my mouth….yucks!!

Spoon and Chopsticks  on July 28th, 2010

Interesting post… I will see if I can do this at home….

Pepy @Indonesia-Eats  on July 29th, 2010

I think this dish will be perfect for people who live on the Northern hemisphere after their Christmas party. :)

Plus, the weather is cold.

I need to take a look this recipe back on winter. Thanks.

Mary  on August 5th, 2010

@Sidney - Haha…..did you imagine yourself turning green when you eat this?? :D You need to try….good for you!

@Spoon and Chopsticks - Give a try. It’s quite easy except with some help with the herbs and chopping up the vegetables. Worth the effort :D

@Pepy @Indonesia-Eats - I think it’s very good after too much over-eating…to cleanse up the system :D , especially after festivities.

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