Posts Tagged ‘Taiwan’

Agricultural products from Japan have started to get a new ring within international  food industry. This term is radioactive food. Fukushima disaster has lead into situation where people are increasingly observative on where their food for example tea has come from. 2011 and many years after that mark a catastrophic crop for tea farms close to Fukushima nuclear plant. I don’t know the exact size of the affected area, but anyhow even the once famously clean brand of Japanese food is now being tainted. There seems to be no way for a single agricultural producer inside the affected area to continue their business. Agricultural producers outside the affected area will not have it easy either.

Terrible accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant will have long-lasting effects on tea production of Japan. The thing is that tea plantations can still grow tea, but there will be the dubious stigmata of post-Fukushima flush.


Year 2011 will start slow downward trend in Japanese tea industry and there is very little that Japanese can do about this thing. I expect to see marketing campaigns, which focus on remote pristine areas and traditionally high quality tea produce. But human mind is a funny little thing as when it starts to think something possible it immediately grows into something, which is quite probable. This will cause the slowdown in Japanese tea sales. → Click here to read more

In HuaShan Culture Park , Taipei, the 1914 Connection Cool & Easy Tea is currently on exhibition until March 5, 2010. In this exhibition, a group of Taiwanese young designers born after 90′, present their design works around the concept of “tea”.  In contrast to the traditional tea ceremony and tea pots, their modern design transform the concept of tea into objects that bring sensation and joy to daily life.

You could find tea design in different areas such as designs for a conceptual tea house, tea snack packaging, tea leaves container and tea pots. The design tea pot above is called “Tea Bag”, quite interesting, isn’t it? I like it! Below is a fisherman fishing tea, lovely!

In addition, discussion forums on the topic of tea are held on every Saturday and Sunday during the exhibition, where experts from different field including literature, travel, food, yoga are invited to discuss and share their experience on tea. Some works in the exhibition also explore the relations and dialogues between tea and flowers.

Due to my current residing in Finland, I wasn’t able to see the exhibition in person. Thanks to the social network community I at least get to see some of the tea designs from Flickr.

Below is slideshow of photos taken by  Aeternitas. on Flickr, including HuaShan Culture Park in Taipei and some designs from Cool & Easy Tea Exhibition. Please, go have a look and feel the modern, young, fresh tea design from Taiwan.

More info on the tea design exhibition:

HuaShan Culture Park – Tea (in Chinese)

Other posts related to Taiwan: New fusion kitchen? Taiwanese afternoon tea! Taiwanese Bubble Tea (Pearl Milk Tea)

Other posts related to Design: Hang your tea like hang your T-Shirt?! Blomus – Loose tea infuser


Taiwan’s authorities, namely Control Yuan, claim that some local tea brands are laced with imported leaves and sold under the name of Taiwanese tea, which hurts the interests of consumers.

Tea farm on the beautiful island of Taiwan. Photo by Harry Huang.


Controlling body points out that sellers can blend local tea with imported tea, but tea sellers should clearly indicate the ration of imported tea and local tea. To me this sounds like the complains of the Indian Tea Board that encouraged their tea plantations to grow orthodox specialty tea. The underlying motivator seems to be protectionism.


Taiwan imports around 25,000 tons of tea every year, 74 percent of which comes from Vietnam. The imported tea ends up blended with local tea and sold as a Taiwanese product, this is unreasonable and hurts the interests of consumers.Although Taiwan imports 19,000 tons of tea from Vietnam every year, one cannot find tea labeled as Vietnamese on the local market.

Tea Time's Sydney Hurstville Shop

As has written in this post, the most representative tea drinks in Taiwan – bubble tea (Pearl Milk Tea), has found its way to many Taiwanese people’s heart through years. Those like me who live abroad always can’t wait to get our hands on bubble tea as soon as arriving at our home land. During the past years bubble tea has started to be available also in some other countries such as US and Canada.

According to the CNA news in Taiwan, recently a Taiwanese tea chain – Tea Time, has successfully expandning in big scales to mainland China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, USA, and Australia. Especially in Australia, six branch stores have opened in a short time span in responding to the demands and locals’ high interests in franchising this concept.

Tea Time has already opened seven branch stores in Hong Kong before 2010 and two new ones are opening this month. A briefing occasion for those who want to join the franchising plan is to be held in Hong Kong tomorrow, Jan. 9.

Honestly, the news surprises me and arouses my interests right away. I just briefly checked Tea Time’s website and noticed that there are eight Tea Time stores in Taipei city where I come from, though I have never heard of it before. Well indeed I only visit Taipei shortly each year, but while asking my friends randomly from Plurk (a social media network favored by many in Taiwan), not all of them know about this tea chain. Among those who have visited Tea Time, some do give good comments on certain particular drinks.

So why such an internationally “relatively well-known” Taiwanese tea chain is not especially heard of by many in Taiwan? (at least among my random Internet friends)

My guess is: there are already so many well-established tea chains in Taiwan, naturally Tea Time is not necessarily everybody’s favorites. The fierce competition in this field also make it harder for newer brand to stand out in people’s mind. (Tea Time’s brand history in nutshell: it is the 3rd generation store of its predecessor Cha-Tai house (since 2005) and is officially established in 2008 in Hsinchu instead of in Taipei)

Although not at the moment being the most popular tea chain n Taiwan, Tea Time seems to be doing extremely well in its international expansion plan. I am curious to follow its development on this aspect and for sure this will be one of the tea places I have to drop by in my next visit.

More info: (in Chinese)

Walking on the streets of Taipei and other bigger cities in Taiwan, you could easily find tea houses from different corners, some locate by big roads while some hidden in small alleys quietly waiting for visitors. Many of them works as restaurant or beverage bar where they serve tea along side with food and other beverages.

a taiwanese tea house, photo by Empress

I still remember vividly that in 80′ when the bubble tea’s trend started, opening a tea house was popular among locals. Since then, tea house was no longer considered as traditional places where only old men go, instead young people liked to gather in tea houses to meet friends, enjoy snacks, lunch, and a good glass of bubble tea which mostly served cold.

As how competition usually goes in an industry, not all the tea houses managed to survive through the next decades, however many quality ones remained. Further more, more and more tea house franchise stores showed up around the corners, having growing faithful customers over the years. In other words, another wave of competition started and remained until the present days.

Thanks to the tea house development the rich tea cultures in Taiwan not only remains but also has been reborn along the way. Nowadays it is easy to find a big variety of tea houses with special characters. Many of them are so called “mixed-stores” where both tea and quality meal are served.One can also find tea houses that serve tea from other countries, such as tea house for British tea, tea house for German tea… etc.

It is important to mention that the “traditional” tea houses remain and some art tea houses in remote mountain areas are just as popular as those city new comers. Those tea houses serve mainly traditional Chinese tea and Taiwanese mountain oolong tea, hot ones, of course. If you intend to visit traditional tea houses, be sure to reserve enough time to stay and invite good accompanies to get the best out of it, as people do not usually come to traditional tea houses for a quick drink, but having quality time with friends with pots of tea and immersing oneself into the calming atmosphere.

If you ask any oversea Taiwanese: what drink they miss most from home, I bet more than half of them will say: bubble tea. / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bubble tea is a tea beverage originated in Taiwan in 1980s. Nowadays it can be found in many East Asian countries as well as in Canada and the States. Since a few years ago it also started to be available in a small tea house in Paris, opened by Taiwanese of course. Drinking bubble tea has been such a huge trend in Taiwan that nowadays it is not especially “trendy” any more as everybody drinks it and takes it to their heart as a natural part of daily life. Bubble tea has even been considered as one of the “innovations” from Taiwan and no doubt as one of the most representative food/drink from the island.

So, back to the essential question: what is bubble tea? In short, it is black milk tea mixed together with boba balls (made from a mixture of tapioca and carrageenan powder). Sounds weird for those who never tried it, but as long as you try it, you will love it!

Nowadays bubble tea has so many variations. For example, boba balls can differ in sizes, tastes, ingredients, in addition, tea type can also be replaced. Some add green tea instead black tea with popular variations such as jasmine infused bubble green tea. Different spices and fruit taste can be added into the tea, so you could easily find coconut bubble tea, banana bubble tea, mango bubble tea, peach bubble tea, green apple bubble tea, passion fruit bubble tea, kiwi bubble tea etc, just to name a few. For those who prefer non-fruit flavors, taro bubble tea, pudding bubble tea, barley bubble tea, sesame bubble tea, ginger bubble tea, almond bubble tea, lavender bubble tea etc. are common choices. With bubble tea, sky is the limit.

It is also noted that bubble tea can be served cold or hot. I myself prefer hot ones but cold bubble tea was the one that originally got its unique status in Taiwanese tea scene.

There will be more posts about Taiwanese Bubble Tea here in the future. So stay tuned.

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