Lei cha (Chinese: 擂茶; pinyin: léi chá; lit. 'pounded tea'; pronounced [lěɪ ʈʂʰǎ]) or ground tea is a traditional Southern Chinese tea-based beverage or gruel that forms a part of Hakka cuisine. In English, the dish is sometimes called thunder tea since "thunder" (雷; léi) is homonymous with "pounded" (擂; léi).
The custom of lei cha began in the Three Kingdoms period or even Han Dynasty. It is very common among Hakka people in Hakka regions of Taiwan. It is brought by Hakka people to Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and any locales with a substantial Hakka diaspora population. Besides Hakka lei cha, lei cha is also traditional among Hunanese people in northern Hunan.
Lei cha is not the same as Taiwanese tea because there are always other ingredients. Ground tea consists of a mix of tea leaves and herbs that are ground together with various roasted nuts, seeds, grains, and flavorings.
Although lei cha can be bought commercially prepared and prepackaged, the drink is usually made "from scratch" just as it is about to be consumed.
Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Taiwan.
Ground tea is a varying mix of:
The ingredients are ground in a food processor, or with a mortar and pestle, or in a large earthenware basin with a wooden stick. The mix should be reduced to a powder that resembles fine cornmeal.
The powder is then placed into a serving bowl and hot water is stirred into it to produce a thin soup-like beverage.
The tea is drunk for breakfast or on cold winters as a tasty and healthy restorative.
Lei cha may also be taken as a dietary brew. In that case, it is served with rice and other vegetarian side dishes such as greens, tofu, and pickled radish. A variety of lei cha popular as khai lang lei cha is sold as street food in Malaysia.
Traditionally, lei cha is a savory brew; however, in contemporary interpretations it is often consumed as a sweet drink.