Lei2 擂 in hakka (Chinese dialect) is the action of grinding.
Cha2 茶 is tea in mandarin.
It contains tea but is served more like a dessert/savory soup rather than your every-day tea.
It starts with grinding up green tea into fine powder then add in raw peanuts, sesame, pumpkin seeds to the tea powder then crush and grind using the pestal till the nuts releases all its oil. At this point the “tea” looks more like a type of green alien peanut butter than what its name suggests. It takes about 10~15 minutes depending on how hard and fast you’re working on the paste to reach the desired consistency. The next step, add hot boiling water. A small amount to break up the paste the first time with some sugar and multigrain powder, a little bit more water and mix it up well, at last the rest of the water.
The tea is now ready to serve! Spoon it up into a bowl and top it with some rice crispies and have a taste of your hard work!
I’ve heard a few versions of how the tea was originated but it wasnt till I Googled this tea that i found out the tea has actually been around much longer than I thought! I’ve always thought this is originated and only practiced in Taiwan but according to an article this tea dates back all the way to the Three Kingdoms era!
The story my mom told me was much simpler (she is not of Hakka descent but she did grow up with a lot of Hakka people).
She said, back then it takes a long time to prepare food and when Hakka people have guests in the house they serve them this tea to keep them full while they wait for supper since the tea is quite filling.
In the Three Kingdoms period, as the general Chang-Fei attacked Wuling, his soldiers were infected by a plague. An old herbal doctor then used some concoction to ward off the plague: raw rice, raw tea and raw ginger were mixed with boiling water to make pulverized tea.
After drinking this tea, soldiers regain their health. This explains how lei cha has another name ‘Three Raw Materials Soup’.
The green tea and the nuts balance out perfectly as well. The tea is astringent and bitter while the nuts packed with oil and sweetness the combination of the fragrance of both makes you ask for more.
If you’re in Taiwan, and would like to experience this yourself, Beipu historical street of Hsinchu county has numerous options just walking down the tiny little streets of backyard of old buildings.
The one we went to had an unfinished wall painting that looked like a master-piece to be. It’s called “天水茶房” (Tian1 Shui3 Cha2 Fang2) which directly translates to “tea house of water from the sky”. Here’s the direction if you ever need it.