Lei cha thunder tea rice stalls in Singapore
Lei cha, AKA thunder tea rice, is a familiar Hakka rice bowl dish found in local hawker centres. The dish is relatively new to our hawker centres, surfacing just less than two decades ago thanks to pioneering Hakka families, but it has since become a staple.
Many think of thunder tea rice as a healthy option to go to when dining at hawker centres. It typically comes with brown or white rice, topped with fibre-rich fresh and pickled greens, such as cabbage and beans. Accompanying the legumes are usually nuts or tofu. While this dish is often associated with vegetarian fare, you can find lei cha topped with anchovies and minced meat as well. Typically served alongside lei cha is a green tea broth, made by blending herbs like mint and mugwort together.
The “lei” in its name actually refers to the character for “pounded” in Mandarin, rather than the similar-sounding “thunder”. Traditionally, the herb mixture for the tea was prepared by pounding herbs with a mortar and pestle.
Here are some of the best lei cha stalls in Singapore to get your thunder tea rice fix.
1. Thunderbolt Tea by Boon Lay Hakka Lui Cha
Image credit: Thunderbolt Tea
Thunder tea rice runs in the family at this stall, set up by the son of the cook behind Boon Lay Hakka Lui Cha. The family recipe is a century old, and is still made today with fresh ingredients, no preservatives, and no MSG. Prices start at $5.30 for the original offering with white rice, but you can top up $0.60 for brown rice. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are available.
They also have crispy pork pieces as a top-up, should you wish to have your lei cha with meat. The stall has also been voted for having the best thunder tea rice in Singapore.
Address: 221B Boon Lay Place, #01-96, Singapore 642221
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 6am to 2pm
Tel: 9339 8979
2. Thunder Tree
Image credit: @littlesweetbonsbons.aczh
Thunder Tree is a vegetarian eatery that also does a delicious version of lei cha. They go to great lengths to ensure that the ingredients used are organic, and they work with a local farm to get their produce daily. This explains why prices here are steeper than usual. Your thunder tea rice order will cost $6.80 for the version with white rice, and $7 for the version with brown rice. They also have another stall in VivoCity.
Address: 101 Upper Cross Street, #B1-06, People’s Park Centre, Singapore 058357
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am to 6:30pm
Tel: 9839 6008
3. Hakka Thunder Tea Rice
Image credit: @coldbutter.sg
Tanglin Halt has been on uncertain ground since the hawker centre was marked for closure by the government, so head down to enjoy Hakka Thunder Tea Rice‘s dishes while you still can. The stall sells two Hakka classics, lei cha and young tau foo. Portions start from $3 for a bowl with white rice, and $4 for brown rice. Either comes generously topped with fresh and pickled greens, including a moreish kiam chai (preserved vegetables). Be warned that queues are long during peak hours.
Address: 3A Commonwealth Drive, #01-31, Tanglin Halt Food Centre, Singapore 141001
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10:30am to 3pm
Tel: 8189 9676
4. Thunder Tea Rice
Image credit: @keizng
Thunder Tea Rice has three outlets islandwide: Joo Chiat, Toa Payoh, and Thomson Plaza. They opened 19 years ago when the brand’s founders first tried lei cha and were immediately hooked.
The thunder tea rice here is rich with herbs, complemented by crisp bits of tofu. You can get it in its original form, for $5.90, or enjoy it with chickpeas instead of rice for $6.90. Those who prefer their lei cha with meat can choose between fish fillet, ngoh hiang, or a chicken patty for $9.20.
5. Hakka Fun HamCha & Yong Tau Fu
Image credit: @yummicraft
Hakka Fun HamCha was first introduced to the Chinatown Food Complex sprawl in 2018. It is established by a Malaysian husband and wife duo, and the recipe for the lei cha and yong tau foo here are both family hand-me-downs. The lei cha is priced from $4.50, and comes loaded with ingredients, from peanuts to fluffy puffed rice for added texture. There are over 10 different elements that go into their version of the dish!
Address: Blk 335 Smith Street, #02-123, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 6pm
Tel: 9092 2123
6. Lin Da Ma Lei Cha
Image credit: @jasther
Lin Da Ma Lei Cha has been in Singapore for almost a decade now, with stalls in three major food centres: Holland Drive, ABC Brickworks, and Amoy Street. Its founder, Mdm Lin, was formerly in the apparel printing business but branched out into lei cha after she was inspired by the dish during a family meal.
Their signature dish is the Lei Cha (from $4), which you can have with organic white or brown rice. What’s also unique is the Lei Cha Handpull Noodles ($3.50) here, where flour noodles are tossed in a herbal pesto that tastes similar to the lei cha broth, and served with an onsen egg. For variety, the stall also sells housemade minced meat tofu and meatballs that you can add to your lei cha, for $1.
7. Living Wholesome Vegetarian
Image credit: @consciousmochiii
Have your thunder tea rice two ways at this popular Bukit Timah stall—with brown rice (from $6), or with bee hoon (from $5). The produce used is organic, and the bowl comes with a couple of unique toppings, such as tofu puffs and red beans. The broth here is praised for being herbal and minty, but well-balanced in flavour. Portions are generous too.
Address: 51 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #02-188, Singapore 588215
Opening hours: Sun, Tue 10:30am to 2pm, Wed-Sat 10:30am to 2pm, 5:30pm to 7pm
Tel: 8426 6033
8. Traditional Hakka Rice
Image credit: @ramenking2018
Traditional Hakka Rice is run by a Hakka family who has been selling the dish for over 10 years now. Bowls here are as affordable as they are nutritious, starting at only $4 for white rice, and $4.50 for brown rice. All the ingredients are prepared from scratch early in the morning, including the broth, where herbs are pounded from fresh to extract their flavour. Apart from lei cha, you can also find yong tau foo, meatballs, and bitter gourd to add on to your bowl, from $1.
Address: 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-21, Singapore 081006
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am to 3pm, Sat 9:30am to 2pm
Where to eat lei cha in Singapore
Thunder tea rice is a great healthy option if you’re dining at hawker centres. For more healthy eats, check out our healthy food delivery guide.
Otherwise, read our Tofully review for a unique take on Hakka-style yong tau foo and rice bowls.