“What you wanna drink today?” Taiwan is located within the subtropics and has its tea-drinking culture, which is extremely original and fun. Either refreshing beverages bringing the chill in scorching summer or hot milk tea sweetening and warming one’s cold heart in cold winter will never be absent in Taiwanese people’s life. This special issue for Taiwanese boba first begins with “tea,” leading you to the past and present faces of this kingdom of beverages to savor various flavors of tea and further offering our recommendation of tea shops stressing different varieties of tea leaves. “Ah——I wanna have one cup every day!!”
( Photo Credit: itsjamestsai、春水堂、melonyu816 )
From Black Tea to Boba in Everyone’s Hand
Boba shops in the early time lead to the popularity of a specific kind of tea shops that are famous for their black tea. Different from the traditional tea shops in which people sit down relishing and brewing hot tea, boba shops sell cold tea beverages with subtle foam produced by hand-shaken shakers and make drinking tea a natural activity because of its affordable price. Three pioneers of boba shops—Shuangquan Black Tea, Chun Shui Tang and Xiao Xie Paomo Black Tea—were students and office workers’ favorite gathering places in the 1980s and 1990s.
Afterwards, the rise of boba shops, including the earlier ones such as Quickly Teashop as well as Easy Way Teashop and the nowadays-popular ones with lots of chains such as Ching Shin Fu Chuan Tea Station, 50 Lan Teashop and Tea & Magic Hand, created a trend of enjoying boba. A 500cc or 700cc cup of freshly-made boba costs less than NTD 50. Thus, this kind of drinks commonly becomes a hot choice among students after school. On the street of urban areas are lined with boba shops, forming a “boba shop street,” on which the density of boba shops is higher than that of convenience stores. What’s more, some people even replace water, the everyday necessity, with boba, or drink at least three cups of boba a day. Boba then become an indispensable part of Taiwanese life.
( Photo Credit: tireboy_ky、清心福全、布萊恩紅茶、JIATE、ishihaye、京盛宇 )
Choose Your Amount of Ice and Sweetness Level! Various Flavors and New Looks Never Fail to Surprise You!
Besides the basic selection of cold and hot drinks, Ching Shin Fu Chuan Tea Station first provided the service of customizing sweetness level (regular sugar, less sugar, half sugar, quarter sugar, and sugar-free) and amount of ice (regular ice, half ice, easy ice and ice-free). This action not only shows the shops’ consideration but also coins the feature of Taiwanese boba shops. Moreover, some heavy beverage drinkers even can tell the difference among the recipes of various boba shops. They choose a different combination of sweetness level and amount of ice while visiting different shops to find out the exclusive ratio for a cup of tasty drinks.
Taiwanese love innovative and creative things, which also demonstrates on the evolution of boba. When diverse flavors and packing designs are created for boba, boba then are turned into portable, tasty dessert, whose existence is beyond a relief of thirsty. On the one hand, different and creative ways to make drinks from focusing on the variety of tea, milk tea, juice and smoothie to adding various traditional sweet add-ins such as tapioca pearls, coconut jelly and perilla seeds result in this new wave. Moreover, specific stress on certain kind of beverages is also a feature for some boba shops. For example, Brain Black Tea in Tainan is one of the earliest shops featuring Taiwanese tea leaves; Like Tea Shop in Taichung City Second Market is famous for the black tea made according to traditional Taiwanese recipe. On the other, cups for packing beverages are transformed, from the transparent plastic cups with simple shop logos to the ones with unique design and styles. For example, Kebuke is famous for its black tea; Jiate named after the term of “drinking tea” in Taiwanese attracts customers with the modern and ingenious shop design. Meanwhile, some tea shops try to refine this beverage culture in other ways. For instance, Jing Sheng Yu and Shi Jian Tea, which only serve exquisite and elegant tea in shops, develop to-go bottles in a minimalist style just to grant freshly-brew tea a new meaning. COMEBUY’s new concept shop in Songyan branch not only adopts a coffee bar like the one in a coffee shop but also combines the technique of brewing coffee to make tea. It serves freshly brew tea whose leaves are ground on site and 11-hour cold drip tea. These innovative actions do elevate Taiwanese boba to another level.
( Photo Credit: 普龍供、missariesx2、一茶工房 )
The Sweet Aftertaste: Recommendations of Our Top Tea Choices
If you are also fond of tea or would like to try the taste of nice Taiwanese tea, we select three boba shops featuring their tea beverages. The first one is Chun Shan Teashop, originally named Wu Tae. In front of the shop is always a long queue. It is also the favorite boba shop of many students in NTU. Four Season tea is the signature drinks and must-try. Upon a sip, the fragrance of tea will spread in your mouth, and the sweet aftertaste will follow after further mouthful. Another recommended shop is Po Long Gong in Puli, Nantou. The name of the shop adopts the funny assonance of “Po Long Gong” in Taiwanese, referring to the dumb donkey. Still, the tea they offer has nothing to do with dumbness, especially the Puer dark tea and Red Oolong Tea with the pure fragrance of tea. Lastly, The One Tea is an old shop starting its business in the tea town of Chiayi; it later changed its face, appearing in public with a brand-new look and setting one branch on Yongkong Street, Taipei. It not only serves boba drinks and cutely-packed tea leaves souvenir but also sells the Grain Rain Oolong grown in their own fields in Mt. Ali and No. 18 Taiwanese Black Tea from Sun Moon Lake in to-go bottles. All these offer you the endless possibility of Taiwanese boba of which you will never be tired but appreciate the sweet aftertaste every day.