The tea habits of Taiwan are similar to that of China. The unique weather and mountains of Taiwan nourish the plants into specific types of teas, Oolong of Tung-Ting, Black tea of Sun-Moon-Lake, and high mountain teas of Alishan are all famous loose tea leaves produced by Taiwan. Oolong and Black teas are the most popularly consumed teas.
Families drink tea in big social gatherings, or even daily. I never had tea in tea bags before studying abroad in the United States. Tea isn’t something I would drink in my free time, well, other than bubble tea. Growing up, tea is something “adults” do after dinner. Nearly every Taiwanese family owns a tea set. There is usually a tea table specifically use for making tea and drinking tea. After dinner, adults will gather around the tea table. The host is in charge of this small casual tea ceremony. First, the host will bring water to a boil in a kettle or a pot. Once the water is boiled, the first thing to do is clean and rinse the tea set with hot water. Second, the host will measure loose tea leaves and scoop them into a tea pot, pour hot water and let set for a few minutes. Third, an important step before drinking tea: never drink the first-poured cup. The very first cup that was poured from the tea pot is used for “smell," to determine the quality of the tea and whether this is going to be a good tea time - it is essential to feel the temperature and the scent of that first cup of tea. Finally, the host will pour tea for everyone in small cups, and the host is in charge of pouring tea when the guest has finished his/her cup. It is an honor when you are offered to sit with the adults to enjoy tea with them, it is also a recognition from them that you have grown up and are old enough to drink tea.
A typical tea set.
Photo from: http://www.puercn.com/czs/cywx/41446.html
While the adults have their elegant tea sets and drinking tea traditions, what about the Taiwanese youngsters? You probably guessed it already, Bubble Tea, a.k.a. Boba, Boba milk tea, pearl milk tea, and traditionally known as “foam red tea” in Taiwan. Tea is such a big part of life that Taiwanese tea vendors invent bubble tea that serves as “fast” tea for to-gos and for deliveries to work places and schools anytime of the day. Bubble tea shops in Taiwan are like Starbucks to Seattle, except on an even more populated scale as so many different brands are competing for the bubble tea market. Unfortunately, bubble tea is known to be unhealthy, using powered milk, artificial flavoring and lots of sugar covering the tapioca. The millennials recognize this problem and in recent years, have been advocating to use real loose-leaf tea produced in Taiwan with natural flavoring and real milk to ensure the quality of bubble tea.
Variations of bubble tea are all over the Taiwanese market, and even gaining popularity around the world.
Christine Shu, Love Tea Intern
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