Hakka Lui Cha 客家擂茶

most people are familiar with the Cantonese’s custom to have yee sang on the 7th day of Chinese New Year. but my grandmother, being of Hakka origin practises the tradition of having Hakka Lui Cha on the 7th day, preferably served with 7 types of vegetables. the name of this dish is not really “thunder tea” (as interpreted literally) but instead, it means “ground tea”. the original way of making the base for the soup is to grind/pound the ingredients using a branch off the guava tree into powder. however, my grandmother has long ago embraced the modern way, i.e. using a blender. lol. and i am sure her version is modified to suit our family’s tastebuds, which is very different from the taiwanese one.

And here’s roughly how my grandmother makes her lui cha :


herbs for the soup base;
1. thai basil (九層塔)
2. mint (薄荷)
3. coriander / cilantro (香菜/芫荽)
4. laksa leaf / vietnamese coriander (越南香菜/叻沙葉)
5. perilla
6. sawtooth herb
and tea leaves (茶葉),ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts (花生), sesame seeds (芝麻).

blanch all the herbs and grind them in your blender, along with the rest of your ingredients for the soup base. then pour the entire thing into a huge pot and add water. bring to boil and voila, the soup is ready.

the accompaniments is relatively easy. choose leafy vegetables and chop them up finely before stir-frying with garlic and salt. our usual choices are :

1. long bean (长豆)
2. leek (蒜)
3. garlic chives (韭菜)
4. chinese chard / bok choy / choy sum (菜心)
5. cangkuk manis – can’t find any name in english/chinese but it’s a dark green leafy vegetable that tastes sweet and is normally served with pan mee.
6. qiao tou (荞头) – i don’t really know what this is called in english, but google seems to suggest its buckwheat greens? but the whitish bulbs are more like onions than buckwheat.

the must-have accompaniment is the salty combination of dried beancurd (豆乾 – diced & deep-fried), dried shrimps (虾米) and dried radish (菜仆干- diced). the trio is stir-fried until fragrant before being served.

hakka lui cha - 客家擂茶

i’ll normally only take a little rice, then take a nice scoop of all the accompanying vegetables, together with the fried dried-trio, add some roasted peanuts before pouring the soup over everything. mix well and dig in! however, the taste of the soup is an acquired taste and most first-timers tend to take the soup separately.

other recipes/write-ups ;




  1. Chris said

    Hi! Could you tell me how much herbs to be used for each type in order to make this dish? Hope to hear from you soon, thanks! Chris

    epicuriousgirl says: we normally buy these in bunches from the market. 1-2 bunches of each will do the trick.

  2. […] found a great post on what lui cha is, the blogger obviously has a much stronger grasp of asian culture than i do. dammit. to the average […]

  3. […] day, or more commonly known as “Ren Ri” (人日), everyone’s birthday by eating luicha, as per our family’s custom. And that has prompted me to post about our family’s […]

  4. Doris Yong said


    Can you let me know translate in chinese “perilla” and “sawtooth herb” as I need to let the vegetable stall holder know what I want to buy. Plse also let me know how much to buy for each type of ingredient (estimate for about 8 people). Thank You and Best Regards.

  5. Mumsie said

    i tasted it for the very first time today and i liked it!…:-)

  6. julie said

    i like to eat lui cha very much.only in kuching i can taste lui cha. there are stalls selling them but majarity of them don’t taste nice. where i can buy those herbs (young plants to plant) so that i can make my own lui cha.

  7. Cindy Chen said

    Hi! Both my parents are Hakka and I remembered fondly of festivals filled with running kids, mahjong pieces clacketing away and tables crowded with, yes, Hakka dishes. The staple – Ham Cha (or to most people Lui Cha). Anyway, to cut the story short, I’d just like to contribute a little to your article above:

    1) Sawtooth herb is also known as Hak Chee Farang (Thai) or Ketumbar Jawa (Malay) – probably easier to buy in a Malay stall with loads of ulam
    2) Cangkuk manis is also known as Sayur Manis or Shu Jai Choi (Cantonese)
    3) Qiao Tou – not sure what this is, but in our family, we use Choy Pou (Cantonese) which is preserved radish

    My hubs and I loves this dish. Quite an acquired taste yet, funny enough, we have quite a few Mat Salleh friends who love Ham Cha too! 😀

    epicuriousgirl says: great hearing from you re lui cha. we have a lot of friends who have fallen in love with it too… we also use choy pou but the qiao tou is this bulb vegetable quite similar to chives/spring onions.

  8. Nila said

    Hi all…
    I really like hakka lui cha, Im Hakka people from Indonesia. My big family always meet and eat lui cha, most favoried menu for us…..
    qiao tou (荞头) if indonesian languange said “KUCAI”
    Lui Cha we loved it….. ^_^ (Nila)

  9. Great stuff! Be making it for dinner tonight. Wish me luck! 😀

  10. […] She, the Epicurious Girl […]

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