Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How to prepare hakka Lei-Cha

In the hakka village of Bei-Pu, in Hsin-Chu county, you are very likely to drink "Lei-Cha", a very healthy and powerful drink, invented by the hardworking hakka people. It involves the grinding of green tea, as was custom during the Chinese Song dynasty. This custom was "lost" in China, where Gong Fu Cha prevailed, but is still preserved in Japan. There it is called Matcha, from the Chinese "Mo cha" (to grind tea)! The hakka are still grinding green tea, but are mix it with cereals in a custom that is reminiscent of even earlier times, before the Tang dynasty. Back then, tea was not prepared alone with water, but was like a spice, something to give additional falvor to food or drinks.

Here is the traditonal way for preparing it:
When preparing your hakka "Lei-Cha", you first start to grind the green tea, then the cereals (peanuts, sesame, pumpkin seeds...).
Here you can see me grind the ingredients with a guava wood stick. A small towel is placed under the bowl to make sure it won't slip down.
Grind the green tea and the cereals until you get such a sticky paste.
Add hot water to the paste, put it in your small tea bowl and enjoy your Lei-cha with rice flakes and traditionnal chinese/hakka snacks!

The trick is to grind everything very small so that you get a very fluid paste. This is not as easy as it looks like. (I received help from the tea shop owner, I have to admit). So it's good that you can also buy ready to use Lei Cha mixes where you just have to add hot water. I think it's great for breakfast: you're saving time as you get to drink both cereals and tea at the same time!


Barbara Glancy said...

My first introduction to Hakka tea was from a Taiwan friend who works for the Taiwan Economic and Tourism Office in Coral Gables, Florida. She suggested I try it. I found commercially prepared individual packets at local Asian markets that were at best average. Then Stephane sent me a unexpected sample of Hakka tea.I immediatly tried it knowing ahead of time Stephane's duty to quality. I was delighted to finally taste quality Hakka tea.I am currently preparing to order my next two boxes or 1200 grams. It is wonderful for a breakfast meal on the run and holds you way past lunch or even dinner on a really busy day. As the weather changes from winter to spring it is best to start to lighten your diet. This is a great way to do just that. I encourage everyone to try Hakka tea. It is simular to a hot silky porrage, hot chocolate or caffe latte.I use 3 tablespoons in a large mug of water around 12-14 0nces.
Barbara Glancy

Anonymous said...

I had Hakka tea in Taiwan in the late 1990s. I tried to make it when I got back to the US, but failed miserably. You've given me some new ideas...especially since I didn't know it was called Lei Cha! Thanks!