During the last trip to Taiwan I tried my hand on making Thunder Tea at 苗栗縣南庄鄉蓬萊村 Penglai Village, Nanzhuang Township, Miaoli County with R and his friend Z . It was a really interesting experience for me.
Thunder Tea ( 擂茶) is the native tea of the Hakka people who live in Taiwan. Lei cha is not the same as Taiwanese tea because there are always other ingredients. Pounded tea consists of a mix of tea leaves and herbs that are ground or pounded together with various roasted nuts, seeds, grains, and flavorings.
Ingredients for Hakka Tea
The traditional ingredients of lei cha are:
- tea leaves (either green tea or oolong)
- raw sesame seeds
- roasted peanuts
Other ingredients which can be added:
- raw pine nuts
- sunflower seeds
- cooked or puffed rice
- mint leaves
- mung beans
The ingredients are mixed to a ratio of 3 parts tea leaves, 3 parts sesame seeds and peanuts, and 1 part remaining ingredients.
Instructions for Making Hakka Tea
Place all the ingredients in a ceramic bowl and grind them with a wooden pestle. Add a small amount of water as you grind to make a paste.
The resulting paste is mixed with hot water and served in bowls. Lei cha was traditionally served salty, but today is often sweetened with sugar.
Hakka tea is a healthy drink that may account for the renowned longevity of the Hakka people. It is often served with rice and side dishes of vegetables, tofu, and pickles.
After listening to the instructions we set off to “work”. For this particular workshop we used red tea leaves instead of green tea as it was late afternoon. They do not recommend that one take green tea in the afternoon/ evening as if you are sensitive to caffeine and it may keep you awake throughout the whole night.
Grinding the ingredients
It was teamwork for us as one was needed to hold the bowl while the other person does the grinding. You have to use your whole strength to grind. We had to grind up the tea leaves, sesame seeds and peanuts. The other items were given to use pre-mixed so we just had to add them into bowl to mix.
When all the ingredients were ready we added hot water into the mixture and the tea was ready to be drunk.
As there were many ingredients being used in the tea it was rather “thick” as compared to traditional Chinese tea. I didn’t really like the taste as the green teas that I am used to drinking.