MeiNong I-Chan (Tea Preparation Shop)
142, ChengGong Rd., MeiNong town, Kaohsiung
County (opposite MeiNong gas station)
Hours:Everyday 10 am-8:30 pm
-- By Peiling Wu Translated by Annie Liu
As traditional cuisine loses its grip on modern
taste buds, individuals like Lin Hsi Shuh, is keen on preserving
the cultural remnants. Mr. Lin came across the pestle and
mortar used in making "Lei Cha" (Lei Tea) by chance.
He was determined to revive the "Art of Hakka Lei Cha"
and opened the first Lei Cha Teahouse in MeiNong. "Lei
(to grind) Cha (tea)" is made by grinding several ingredients:
tea, various herbs, sesame and nuts.
Entering MeiNong I-Chan is like stepping back
in time. To begin, you are presented with a clay mortar and
wooden pestle, a plate of assorted ingredients and instructed
on the art of making Lei Cha. Then grind away! The role of
grinding is passed around the table and energy is kept high
by complementary herbal tea, snacks and even traditional Hakka
costumes. The resulting powder is spooned into individual
porcelain bowls, stirred together with hot tea and crispy
puffed rice...justifying all the effort.
Another signature dish, the Hakka "tobacco
leaf rice" (served by appreciative hosts to those helping
with the harvest of tobacco leaves) is topped with Hakka pickled
vegetables, tender slices of pork and fried eggs with Chinese
basil. At NT$130 per serving (NT$230 with Lei Cha), it is
available on weekends but requires ordering prior to weekday
visits. Lei Cha is NT$120 per person, NT$230 for 2 people
and NT$320 for groups of three and NT$100 per person for groups
of four or more. Make a date with friends and invigorate your
senses the Hakka way. Don't be surprised if you end up spending
the whole afternoon.