Healthy Travel Find: Thunder Tea Rice
Thunder Tea Rice (aka Lei Cha Fan)
Not only is this awesome dish loaded with the health benefits of tons of herbs, veggies and even tea, it also has what I think is the coolest name for a dish ever. Thunder Tea Rice! It makes it sound kinda dark and dangerous and extreme! The dish is traditionally prepared by pounding the tea and the name comes from the thunderous noise that is created by the pounding.
There are seven traditional vegetables served with this meal (!) and it is all loaded into a sauce made of tea, mint and basil and then served over rice. Check out more on the history, and find out why there are seven vegetables served with the meal HERE.
Even though we don’t have to pound the tea by hand anymore (yay for food processors!) this dish still requires a bit of prep. But, it is definitely worth it- not only is it a super healthy dish (hello- veggies and tea?!) but it has an awesome, unique flavor profile!
Of course, there are variations based on seasonality, region and personal preference, as usual, but here are some of the most common ingredients that can be found in the US.
Thai Basil– Basil is high in Vitamin K- an important factor in helping blood clot after a cut or scrape and helps build strong bones. It is high in antioxidants and antimicrobial elements and its aroma can help you beat fatigue (when you get tired of chopping all the veggies for your Thunder Tea Rice, take a big ol’ whiff of basil to keep you going!)
Mint– Used by the Greeks and the Romans to reduce pain and alleviate indigestion. It may even help decrease allergy symptoms (yay!) thanks to its high Rosmarinic content. Read more about it HERE.
Tea Leaves– Tea is a source of caffeine which helps keep you firing on all cylinders by keeping you mentally alert. It may also help prevent ovarian cancer and improve eczema, lower blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure. Like you needed another reason to drink tea!
Sesame Seeds– Sesame seeds are a source of the trace mineral copper, an important mineral in the synthesis of red blood cells and collagen (the stuff that keeps your skin and joints looking and feeling young!).
Peanuts– Peanuts contain folic acid, an important nutrient that may help lower the risk of colon cancer. The fatty acid profile of peanuts can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol which can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Cabbage– Packed with nutrients, cabbage helps just about every part of you stay healthy. It is a valuable source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. It is also brimming with vitamin C and glycosinolates- powerful antioxidants that are showing a promising ability to kill cancerous cells.
Snow Peas– These add a pleasant, sweet, crunch and offer a low glycemic index. They are also high in vitamin C- which boosts collagen production and the immune system as well as helping with wound healing. They are also a good source of iron which helps fight fatigue and fiber which can help lower cholesterol.
Long (French) Beans– May help prevent depression, thanks to their folic acid content. They are also high in chlorophyll which helps mop of free radicals produced from grilling foods, chemical carcinogens and reduces the damage done by radiation.
Kai Lan– Also known as gai lan, Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale this cruciferous veggie (from the same family as cabbage and broccoli) is worth getting to know. With a flavor somewhere between kale and broccoli, it is great for stir fries and grows easily on balconies or in container gardens.
Romaine– Low in calories, romaine adds crunch, fiber, vitamin K and lutein (an important antioxidant for eye health) and the versatile antioxidant, vitamin C.
White Radish– That hot flavor in radishes may do more than bring a tear to your eye, radishes are thought to stimulate digestive juice and bile production which can help with digestive issues. It may also help fight bacteria in the body as it has exhibited antibacterial properties.
Tofu– Made from soybeans, tofu is a great source of protein. It may help protect against heart disease and cancer. It is also a source of isoflavones which may help prevent breast cancer and help with the symptoms of menopause
Black Eyed Peas– High in fiber and protein (combine them with rice like in Thunder Tea Rice and you have all the essential amino acids- a complete protein!) these tasty and healthy little beans are thought to bring good luck when eaten on New Year’s day. Whether they bring you luck or not their potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate and fiber content will help bring you good health!
If you want to experience a truly unique and amazing meal, roll up your sleeves, start pounding (or food processing) and check out these Thunder Tea Rice recipes to get inspired: