Our epic quest to sample the best and most unique teas and blended beverages in Taipei continues in part two of Bubble Milk Tea and Beyond in Taiwan. (Read first: Bubble Milk Tea and Beyond in Taiwan (part one))
Shop Five:花甜果室 Blossoming Juice
花甜果室 AKA Blossoming Juice is a shop located in Taipei’s Da An district that’s been praised in the domestic and foreign media as “the Starbucks of Taiwan’s juice industry”. Blossoming Juice sent us half a dozen delectable drinks.
1.Romantic Encounter Tea (玫果桃花運茶)
A mixture of apple, peach, rose hips, cranberry and orange (sweetened lightly with Stevia), this was a welcome beverage for a certain expecting MyTaiwanTour staffer who’s had to shy away from caffeine.
“I tasted the peach first, followed by the other fruits, most notably cranberry and orange. A very well balanced drink, not too sweet. I particularly liked the white bubbles, which were pretty chewy and also had a well balanced sweetness.“
2.Passionate Summer Tea (百香莓春果茶)
Made with the ever-popular Taiwanese passion fruit blended with lemon, raspberry and Assam black tea, BJ’s Passionate Summer Tea made our tester feel like they were on a tropical island vacation.
“I was expecting more of a fruit tea experience from the tangerine color and floating passion fruit seeds, and was surprised by a rather strong flavor of ying-chun tea. Definitely an unfamiliar flavor, but quite interesting nonetheless, with definitely strong fruity overtones. I’d totally recommend this to anyone who likes a good fruit / tea blend experience.”
A blend of raspberry, banana, pineapple, honey and carbonated water, Button is a popular drink among fans of fancy cocktails.
“The first sip was full of orange aroma mingling with bubbles that tickled the tip of my tonge. There was a slight, not unpleasant bitterness on the middle of my tongue that stayed with me. I found this a very visually and texturally interesting drink thanks to it’s pink colors and mixture of bananas and raspberries, which were fun to chew. Definitely had a duality of flavors with all the different types of fruit.”
4.Cosmic Flame (紫光宇宙火焰山)
This interestingly named drink is a mixture of Banana, oats, purple sweet potato, yogurt and honey, blended with milk and fresh cream. As you might imagine, it’s a very colorful drink, with an interlacing of blue and purple interlaced with other colors. As you also might imagine, the drink is quite healthy and nutritious.
“With such a variety of ingredients, I expected the flavor to be conflicting, but was pleasantly surprised that it was not. This drink had a thicker texture than most other drinks, and a strong flavor of banana. The ingredients were very fresh, and I felt healthier after I drank the Cosmic Flame!”
With its main four Ingredients of strawberry, blueberry oats and milk, Barbie is also a colorful drink with great health benefits. Much like it’s namesake, Barbie is meant to bring an energetic and cheerful feeling to those who drink it.
“Once I started drinking this I couldn’t stop. The light sourness of the of blueberry mixed perfectly with the sweetness of the strawberry, and the oatmeal and milk made me feel full, as if I’d had a meal, once I was done.“
6.Close to the Taste of Falling out of Love (一種接近失戀的滋味:櫻花淚)
Another sparkling beverage, this most interestingly named drink contains cherry blossoms, lemon, honey and perrier.
“A very cooling beverage, this drink is almost like an alcohol-free cocktail, the sort of thing you’d get at a bar (but without the booze). It had a really special flavor, and made me feel quite cool and refreshed.”
Shop Six: Check Inn Teas (雀客飲)
Though Check Inn is best known as a hotel, they’ve also got a drink shop in the lobby serving a rather unique series of handmade beverages made with a cheese-infused foam. Though it sounds strange, it’s actually both delicious and refreshing, The foam itself is made from fresh cream, with a hint of Parmesan cheese added as a unique flavoring, creating a salty, sweet flavor topped off with a bit of lemon peel. They also do two other more standard bubble milk teas. We tested all four of Check Inn’s blends.
1.Cheesy Green Tea (奶蓋朝露綠茶)
A classic green tea served with Check Inn’s signature cheesy foam top, this drink is a definite must try.
“The thick layer of milk foam sprinkled with lemon peel was quite appealing. The first sip proved a perfect pairing of cream, salt and sweetness, which was then followed by the refreshing sensation of green tea. Definitely a well balanced and unique drink.”
2.Cheesy Brown Sugar Tie Guan Yin (黑糖奶蓋鐵觀音)
Similar to the cheesy green, the cheesy brown is made with Taiwanese tieguanyin (Iron Goddess) tea, brown sugar and of course Check Inn’s signature cheesy foam.
“The upper layer of milk foam with cheese and brown sugar powder combined with the lower layer of Tieguanyin tea created an appealing appearance and delicate aroma. With the first sip, I tasted the brown sugar, and fully enjoyed the brown sugar cream. I recommend having this drink with very little added sugar, as it’s already perfectly blended.”
3.Tie Guan Yin Bubble Tea (鐵觀音珍奶) & Taiwan Oolong Milk Bubble Tea (臺灣烏龍珍奶)
Two more standard offerings at Check Inn, these two bubble milk teas come with either Tie Guanyin (iron goddess) or Oolong, both of which are popular in Taiwan.
“Both of these are quite good, and the drinker can adjust the level of sweetness according to their own preferences. Check Inn’s cafe uses high quality teas and fresh milk in both.”
Shop Seven: JOOCE Nut Mylk Tea (堅果飲)
JOOCE was founded by a group of entrepreneurs from Taiwan who fell in love with nut-milk based drinks while studying in the United States. Returning to Taipei in October 2017, they opened JOOCE to promote their entirely vegan product line. The Taiwan Scene crew enjoyed several unique beverages from this very unique shop.
1.Taiwan Ruby Black Tea with Cream (台灣紅玉堅果奶蓋茶)
Though JOOCE is known for its more experimental blends, their Taiwan Ruby Black Tea with Cream offers something pretty close to a standard milk tea experience, though of course using only the finest quality nut milk in place of dairy.
“The salty flavor of the nutty cream surprised me, as I was expecting something sweet. The fragrance of the Taiwanese ruby black tea hit my taste buds shortly after, reminding me of how I used to drink tea with my father while eating pistachios. Stirring the cream into the tea produced an excellently blended Taiwanese milk tea. I recommend this drink with low or no sugar and very little ice.”
2.Dragon Fruit Tea with Cream (繽紛火龍果奶蓋茶)
Though this would be a fine and creamy fruit-tea beverage if mixed, our taste tester was so enchanted by the layered color mixture that they decided to handle it first as if it were a dessert.
“When I got this drink, I reached for a spoon and ate about half of the sweet nut butter cream. Then I stuck the straw underneath and drank about half of the dragon fruit juice, which had a tart flavor. Finally, I mixed what was left and drank the rest. I feel like I got three experiences out of it, and would recommend anyone else do the same.”
3.Taro Nut Tea (香芋堅果奶)
Light purple with strong flavor, this beverage is definitely a taste of Taiwan thanks to its main ingredient, taro.
“The mixture of taro and nut milk gave this beverage a distinctly smooth texture and flavor. I think this drink would be a good alternative for people who don’t like drinking dairy products but still want to experience a creamy drink.”
4.Quinoa Oatmeal Nut Mylk Tea (藜麥燕麥堅果奶茶)
Definitely one of the more unique beverages on this list, this one, containing a blend of the super-trendy superfood quinoa mixed with oatmeal may have been one of the more filling drinks on the list.
“With a mouthful of oatmeal and Quinoa in every sip, it felt like I was having breakfast at some hip spot in Northern California. While I did like it, texture-wise it was as much about eating than it was about drinking, and was more filling than thirst quenching.”
5.Grape Nut Mylk Tea (葡萄堅果奶)
Another beverage that could easily pass for breakfast, Jooce’s Grape Nut Mylk Tea contains the company’s iconic nut milks blended with grapes.
“A hint of sour and sweetness from fresh Grapes, mixed with the rich flavors of the brand’s iconic nut milk provides the perfectly surprising balance. This one is less thick and heavy than some other nut milk smoothies, and had a pleasant texture and delightful taste. Definitely a nutritious drink, there was a lot to love about this otherwise ordinary-looking drink.”
Shop Eight: Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea （一芳水果茶）
Creating fruit tea blends developed in Taiwan during the days of Japanese occupation, Yifang’s fruit teas are the beneficiaries of generations of wisdom and a few secret recipes. One thing we can reveal is that the shop uses only fresh seasonal fruits from Taiwan and never adds concentrated juice, making their beverages true Made in Taiwan classics. Yifang sent us four fruit teas to try out.
1.Yifang Fruit Tea (一芳水果茶)
Sweet and fruity, Yifang’s signature tea uses a blend of locally grown apples, pineapple, passion fruit and orange to create a classic fruit tea.
“I could actually taste all of the fruit in this tea, which had a unique and perfectly calming flavor alongside a refreshing kick. This would be a great tea to drink during Taiwan’s hotter summer months.”
2.Yakult with Mountain Tea (養樂多冰茶)
One of the most popular drinks at Yifang, Yakult with Mountain Tea is a blend of Oolong tea and Yakult, a locally-made yogurt drink especially popular with kids.
“Local Taiwanese tea blends perfectly with the sweet Yakult yogurt drink, creating a cool flavor and texture that brings out the best of both worlds. I think anyone who tries this drink – especially in the summertime – will fall in love with it.”
3.Pineapple Green Tea (金鑽鳳梨綠)
A blend of fresh pineapple and Taiwan grown green tea, this is a drink bursting with flavor and texture.
“The Pineapple Green Tea from I-Fang has perfect sweet, fruity, and bursting with the fresh flavor of pineapple. I really enjoyed the texture of the pineapple blended with the flavor of green tea.”
4.Sugar Cane Mountain Tea (溪口甘蔗青茶)
Once a major Taiwanese export, it’s only natural that this classic Taiwanese tea shop should marry sugar cane – a very traditional Taiwanese agricultural product – with green tea.
“I’m a big fan of sugar cane juice, so naturally this blend appealed to me. Some people find green tea slightly bitter, so the blending of sugar cane juice and green tea seems like an almost perfect marriage.”
Shop Nine: 珍煮丹Jenjudan
Established in 1999, Jenjudan has become one of the most beloved shops serving brown sugar bubble milk tea, and it’s normal to see long lines at any of their branches. It’s also normal to reach the end of the line and find that they’ve sold out. Lucky for us that the good folks at Jenjudan sent us samples of their four best-selling drinks to our office!
1.Bubble brown sugar milk (黑糖珍珠鮮奶)
What makes this signature drink a genuine comfort drink is its sweetness and lack of caffeine. If you’re having a stressed out day, this may be the cure.
“The pearls in this tea have a strong brown sugar flavor which blended perfectly with the fresh milk. Whereas most bubble milk drinks have tea, this one doesn’t, making it a good drink for those who don’t want the caffeine. Definitely a must-try!”
2.Green Tea with Passion Fruit and Bubble and coco jelly (百香雙響)
Green tea served with passion fruit, bubble pearls and coconut jelly proved a very nice and perfectly balanced beverage for our taster looking for a low-caffeine / dairy-free alternative.
“My general rule is no caffeine past three PM, but I’ll bend this for green tea, which, though caffeinated is pretty gentle compared to black teas. This drink had a perfect pairing of light green tea, chewy bubbles and coconut jelly, made even better by the low sugar content. Definitely a worthwhile beverage!”
3.Brown Sugar white gourd lemon tea with jelly lemon (黑糖冬瓜檸檬)
White gourd lemon tea is a classic Taiwanese drink found in Tea shops around the island. The lemon jelly in this drink gives it a very interesting texture indeed.”
“How did I know this was a good white gourd lemon tea? It was the distinctiveness of the mixture of sweet white gourd and the sour lemon that gave this drink the perfect balance. Anyone who’s a bit tired of the standard bubble teas will find this drink an excellent change of pace!”
4.High Mountain Oolong Tea Latte (高山烏龍拿鐵)
Don’t let the word latte fool you. There’s no coffee in this drink, just high mountain Oolong tea.
“I guess they named this drink latte because it had a lot of milk. This didn’t drown out the oolong tea, though. I smelled it before I’d even had the first sip. Mine was served “light sugar / less ice,” which I found a little light for my tastes. Next time, I’ll go for “half sugar / less ice.”
(Read also: A Tale of Three Tea Shops)