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Friday, 27 May 2011

Thunder Tea

Yet another authentic chinese dish, thunder tea is the direction translation of its chinese name, Lei Cha (雷茶). Signature dish from the Chinese Hakka clan; served like a bowl of soup which one will pour over a bowl of rice topped with a variety of stir-fried vegetables that comes with it. Besides vegetables, there are other condiments like tofu, peanuts, dried shrimps and preserved radish. Next, mix and indulge! As it can be unsightly after the stirring, the above picture was taken after the soup was poured in but before mixing for a more pleasant sight :) The soup is not very visible though because I didn't want it to drown the veggies!

Interesting stories about how Thunder got into the name. Some say it is actually Hakka for ground or pound (i.e. how it is prepared) and not as in the one that comes with bolts and lightnings. Another version of the story says it is literally thunder because the loud pounding noise made when preparing it sounded like thunder!

I was first introduced to this dish many years back by my ex-colleague, a Hakka by the way. We had it at a food stall in a coffee shop near our work place. I have her to thank for introducing me to this healthy, 'green' and delicious dish. I will never forget that she took extra long to finish it because of the amount of chewing that had to be done with every mouthful which was fibre-rich! It didn't help that she was naturally a slow-eater! If you are reading this, yes it's you I am talking about :)

Thunder tea is actually made from a rich mixture of herbs like mint, coriander, basil etc, etc, etc and green tea leaves grounded into a paste. The etc, etc, etc is because I have no idea what other herbs goes in it! All I know is it's very fragrant and greenish! I am so lucky and thankful to have mum's close friend who will kindly prepare extra for our family when she makes them for her family. What I need to do is to mix it into boiling water!

Albeit having access to a cheat way to prepare the most crucial part, preparing this dish is no easy task. The accompanying vegetables have to be finely cut and stir fried/blanched separately. Then, comes the preparation of the condiments. Peanuts to be fried and skinned too, tofu to be cubed and fried. Preserved radish and dried shrimps go to the same process too.

Taste wise, it's a love-hate relationship. I have supporters on both sides of the fence in the family, not the ideal, unfortunately :( The ones that hate it say the smell of the herbs in the tea is overpowering, feels like eating toothpaste because of the strong minty smell, too chewy and looks quite gross after the mix up. Of course, those on the other side of the fence love it for all the opposite reasons! BUT it is indeed something good for the family once in awhile, great way to eat more greens and detox.

Mums, the next time you go to street markets around your place, lookout for the bowl shown in the picture. It's insulated stainless steel and very light, good for dishes that are to be eaten warm. Like a bowl of lui cha, curry noodles and the likes of it, soup stays hot but not to your hands! Cool design, best of all it's so cheap, only RM4 each!


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