From The Straits Times    |

Fans of Thunder Tree – a popular vegan leicha (thunder tea rice) stall with branches at People’s Park Centre and VivoCity – will have until the end of June to load up on the Hakka dish.

Known for its fresh and flavourful mixed vegetable toppings and rich, piquant tea paste made of basil, mugwort and mint leaves, Thunder Tree sources its ingredients from its very own organic farm, Fireflies Health Farm, in Lim Chu Kang. For those who aren’t familiar with the homegrown venture, Thunder Tree has gained a following among Singaporeans since opening in 1998, who can’t get enough of their MSG- and additives-free food (even local singer-songwriter Linying has raved about them during our February 2022 cover interview).

According to co-owner Cai You Zhao, who runs the family business with his parents and siblings, the expiry of the lease of its farm has led to a decision to shut down its F&B operations as well. After having their lease extended twice since 2014, the farm will have to vacate its premises by July, together with about 70 other farms in the area. The 390ha plot will then be redeveloped into a “high-tech agri-food cluster“.

Thunder Tree is known for its fresh and piquant leicha. Photo: Lawrence Teo

“It’s sad to see my parents’ business – which they have built over the past 25 years – go. But the process to tender for another plot of land is a complicated, with no guarantee that you’ll be allocated one,” says You Zhao when we visited the People’s Park Centre stall last Thursday, which will be closing on 31 May. Its VivoCity arm, located in Food Republic, will be shutting by 30 June.

“As of now, maybe we’ll take a long vacation after this,” he muses.

Co-owner Cai You Zhao (far right), with his team at Thunder Tree’s People’s Park Centre stall. Photo: Lawrence Teo

Planning to visit their stalls? You might want to do so during off-peak hours as we’ve observed a steady stream of customers queuing at the People’s Park Centre stall even after lunch their VivoCity outlet is said to be even busier.

And, if you’re new to Thunder Tree, we recommend requesting for a side of house-made chilli with your leicha. Proceed with caution though, as it has a potent kick.

Thunder Tree is located at #B1-06, People’s Park Centre (10.30am-6.30pm) and Food Republic at VivoCity (11am-8pm).