Experimenting Tea Culture in Taiwan - Pt.2

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Issue No.3 Pt.2

Tea Fields - Sun Moon Lake/Alishan While researching the best place to experience tea production in Taiwan, we read about the T-18 black tea specific to Sun Moon Lake area in Nantou County. This unique tea, which took almost 50 years to develop, was created by hybridizing a Camellia Assamica from Burma - now Myanmar - called Ashamu and a Camellia Formosensis indigenous to Taiwan. Originally developed by the Japanese through their occupation of the island during WWII, the work was taken over by the Taiwan Tea Research and Experiment Station when the Japanese left the island after the war. Intrigued by this tea, we went to Sun Moon Lake and paid a visit to the Antique Assam Tea Farms where we brought back a selection of freshly made T-18 tea to try. Later on during the week, we went to Ali Mountain where we stayed at a bed and breakfast right in the middle of the tea fields. Alishan is an area known for the production of High Mountain Oolong - a slow growing tea that is pretty new to the tea scene. What makes this tea special is its distinctive floral flavour created by a higher level of humidity which surrounds the tea leaves with a permanent blanket of fog.

Antique Assam Tea Farm in the Sun Moon Lake Area

Antique Assam Tea Farm in the Sun Moon Lake Area

Bubble Tea and other tea based beverages - It was amazing to see the variety of tea based beverages that were available throughout the country. From plain cold brews served in milk container to tea lattes, the choices were numerous. We took the opportunity to taste different mixtures and even made a special detour to Taichung to visit Chun Shui Tang, the birthplace of bubble tea. Although not an expert of this Taiwanese specialty both Chris and I agreed that their bubble tea was amazing.  They even had a bubble tea making workshop but at the time we went it wasn’t available in english. Watch this video from the Fung Bros to witness the unique way Chun Shui Tang uses to create their bubble tea.  Our quest for innovative beverages had lended us to try salted cream cheese tea (an iced tea served with a fluffy cream cheese topping). Weird is the general comment that we get from friends when trying to explain what it is. All we have to say is that you have to try it first before making your own opinion. Even though it contained LOTS of calories, we loved it so much that  we had to indulge ourselves more than once before heading back home.

Different tea based beverages that you can find in the fridge at most of the 7 eleven in Taiwan.

Different tea based beverages that you can find in the fridge at most of the 7 eleven in Taiwan.

Tea Flavored Food - The Taiwanese are really into tea based food products. From tea flavoured food to Hakka Leicha it was hard not to find something that had tea in it. We tried green tea and Ti Kuan Yin flavoured ice cream, tea oil noodles, and pastries such as matcha red bean cake roll and green tea mochi. The one thing we are still trying to figure out if we like or not are tea eggs. Our interest to try this delicacy started while studying for my tea sommelier program. For what we understood, it is a boiled egg, slightly cracked and then boiled again in tea. According to Wikipedia, in Taiwan, they are a fixture of convenience stores. Through 7-eleven chains alone, an average of 40 millions tea eggs are sold every year. It looked as though there was more than one type of egg (soy, fermented and tea). Once we were able to differentiate them, we tried one every time the opportunity arise.

Te kuan yin flavored iced cream in Maokong.

Te kuan yin flavored iced cream in Maokong.

Visiting Taiwan was so inspiring for us. From learning about the history of tea to tasting all kinds of tea based products. We are very thankful for having the opportunity to visit this wonderful country.

Sarah + Chris

Sarah Pelletier