Best Thunder Tea Rice in Singapore (Lei Cha, 擂茶饭)
I must be weird.
I’m not exactly a healthy eater, yet I’ve never had issues with vegetables.
Naturally, I always like to remind my parents how lucky they are: I don’t smoke, I hardly drink, I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I love my vegetables.
And so, we lead to one of my favourite dishes of all – the infamous Hakka ‘Thunder’ Tea Rice (aka ‘Lei Cha Fan’, 擂茶饭).
Actually, the ‘thunder’ is a bit of a misnomer because the word ‘擂’ (Léi) actually means to ‘pound’. It sounds exactly the same as the ‘雷’ (Léi) for thunder. You can see that the ‘擂’ used in ‘擂茶饭’ has the ‘hand’ component in it. But I guess ‘Thunder Tea’ sounds much better than ‘Pounded Tea’.
Oh yes, I’m extremely fun at parties.
Anyway, these are my favourite places to satisfy my Lei Cha cravings, in no particular order:
Thunder Tea Rice Private Limited
The company that spoiled the market with its name. If you think about ‘Lei Cha’ and where you thought you saw the stall was, then this is most likely the company you’re talking about.
The only disappointment here is in the ‘Lei Cha’ itself. Among my recommendations, the serving here is the smallest, and it’s the least flavourful.
They’re still a reasonable choice though.
For the standard Lei Cha rice and tea combo, it’s $5.80, which is very good value for money, considering how they’re not stingy with the rice portions. It’s the same price even for their food republic outlets at Vivocity and Suntec City. If you’d like more variety, you can order the sets that come with things like fish fillets or prawn meat rolls. They don’t charge extra for takeaways too!
Tip: Get $1 off at Suntec City’s Food Republic Outlet if you’re a Golden Village cinemas member. Just show them your e-card.
Cons: Least flavourful ‘Lei Cha’
Pros: Filling, Value for Money, Filling, Non-Vegetarian Options, Most Variety, Many Outlets, Damn Good Takeaway Container
328 Joo Chiat Road #01-04, S(427585)
Tel: 6342 0223
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market (Stall 12)
18 Raffles Quay S(048582)
9am – 9pm, Tel: 6220 2028
Vivocity, Food Republic
1 Harbourfront Walk, Vivocity #03-01, S(098585)
10am-10pm, Tel: 6273 2209
Suntec City, Food Republic (Stall 6)
3 Temasek Boulevard, #B1-115 to 120 and #B1-126/127, S(038983)
10am-10pm, Tel: 6336 5384
HDB Hub, Gourmet Paradise (Stall 4)
480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #B1-01, S(310480)
9am-9pm, Tel: 6397 2880
Changi City Point, Koufu (Stall 5)
5 Changi Business Park Central 1, #02-01/02, S(486038)
Pine Tree Cafe (Vegetarian)
My favourite, even though at $7, it’s not the cheapest. Also, the rice portion isn’t as filling as the others.
However, Pine Tree Cafe’s Lei Cha is the best. It comes in a huge bowl, and is thick, smooth, and even manages to be somewhat savoury. All of a sudden, the price makes sense.
Lots of other things on their menu too if you’re looking for a vegetarian meal.
Cons: Least Filling, Somewhat Pricey
Pros: Best Lei Cha, Large Lei Cha Portion
190 Middle Road #02-09, Singapore 188979
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am-7,30pm
Tel: 9861 5457
Living Wholesome Vegetarian (Thunder Tea Rice)
If you want good, smooth Lei Cha that also comes with a filling portion of thunder tea rice, then you should definitely give Living Wholesome a try.
I’m not a huge fan of their rice though. It’s quite interesting because the rice is cooked with pandan leafs, lemongrass and apple cider vinegar. On paper, I’m pretty sure this imparts a lot of other beneficial components to the rice. I couldn’t taste the vinegar, so I think it’s the lemongrass/pandan leaf combination that I don’t really like. I don’t hate it, but given the choice, I’d prefer having the standard mixed grain rice.
That said, Living Wholesome is very generous with the other ingredients, which still makes the rice awesome, especially if you chose the $7 ‘normal’ size option. Get the $5 ‘small’ portion if you’d rather not have too much.
The thunder tea itself is pretty good too. You get a reasonable portion that is light and very smooth as well.
Cons: Weird Tasting Rice (for me)
Pros: 2 Size Options, Filling, Lots of Supplementary Ingredients, Smooth Lei Cha
Bukit Timah Food and Market Centre
51 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #02-188, Singapore (588172)
Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am-2pm, 6pm-8pm
Tel: 9666 0694