I’ve been hearing a lot about Thunder Tea Rice lately and the reports have been mixed. So I decided to hop along to Lau Pa Sat (Hokkien for ‘old market’), a wonderful hawker market in the centre of Singapore, with my friend George to try it for myself.

Thunder Tea Rice is a Hakka dish created in China during the Qin dynasty (221-207AD).  Apparently this nutritious dish helped Chinese soldiers ward off the plague and energised them enough to go on to fight war victoriously! Their website claims it is especially effective in treating ‘colds, flu, cough, joint pain and removing stomach wind and gas’.

The dish is comprised of a bowl of cooked rice (you can choose either white or brown), chopped vegetables such as green beans, celery and radish, tofu, peanuts and the option of dried shrimp and ikan bilis (dried anchovies) on top. It is served alongside a bowl of a green liquid made from green tea and a selection of blended herbs such as basil and mint.

The traditional way to eat it is to pour the liquid over the top of the rice and eat it as a meal.

My only disappointment with this dish is that it’s taken me so long to try it!! The delicious green liquid works perfectly with the hearty mixture of fresh vegetables, tofu and rice. The beauty of Thunder Tea Rice is that it leaves you feeling fresh and light yet satisfied, particularly when compared to many of the traditional dishes available in hawker markets.

Nutrition-wise, Thunder Tea Rice is:

  • low in calories and fat, particularly saturated fat
  • high in fibre, especially if you choose brown rice
  • can contribute 1-2 serves of your fruit and vegetables group (remember we are aiming for a minimum of 5 serves)
  • a good source of folate, magnesium, vitamins K and C, potassium and manganese

If you are Singaporean, you apparently either love or hate this dish. It’s true that compared to traditional dishes such as Char Kway Teow and Chicken Rice, Thunder Tea Rice creates less of a flavour explosion in your mouth! It is, however, significantly lower in salt, saturated fat and overall calories and leaves you feeling much more virtuous – it gets the tick of approval from the dietitian!

Having said that, of course it’s still fine to eat these higher calorie dishes on occasion when visiting your favourite hawker centre. If you happen to eat several of your meals each week here, however, it might be worth trying a healthier option such as Thunder Tea Rice. George and I both agree – it’s damn delicious!!

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