If you’re in central Taipei, afternoon tea is easy to find. From Da’an to the East District (anywhere from Zhongxiao Fuxing to Xinyi), most hotels, department stores and cafes will have something on offer, whether it’s British-style ‘high tea’ with three-tiered plate sets or waffles and coffee. Step outside that golden zone, however, and afternoon tea becomes harder to source. As most local restaurants close after lunch, you might find yourself staving off afternoon snack cravings with convenience store fare.
Taipei is changing, though, and various incarnations of ‘afternoon tea’ (including some with local twists) are popping up in unlikely places. From Dihua Street to Beitou and Minquan Road to Xindian, there are now a number of places where you can enjoy a midday repast in parts of the city you might not expect. Not long ago, I explored some of these areas and tried the afternoon tea sets on offer – and here’s what I found. (Read More: Finding Local Flavor at Taipei’s Beer Cafes)
I started my research (by ‘research’ I mean going around eating and drinking delicious things) on Dihua Street, where a number of cafes have popped up recently. Hakkafe, in a lane off the main street, stands out for its bright, industrial-inspired minimalist decor in shades of gray, black and white with natural wood accents.
Terry, Hakkafe’s proprietor, seeks to bring the traditional Hakka flavors of his cultural background to the modern cafe scene, starting with the title. The teas on offer include traditional Hakka Oriental Beauty tea, known for its slightly sweet-sour flavor, which is said to be created by the ‘tea green leafhopper’ (a type of insect) feeding on the leaves. There is also a slightly medicinal sour orange tea which Terry says is reminiscent of the citrusy hot brews that Hakka mothers and grandmothers have their children drink for a sore throat. The most fragrant tea we tried was the ‘Hakka breakfast tea’. Terry noted that there were no breakfast blends of traditional Taiwanese teas, so he created one. It’s light and highly fragrant, with notes of honey from the typically Taiwanese ‘honey-scented tea’ leaves in the blend. (Read More: Savor the Tea and Enjoy the Pleasant Aroma in the City on a Springtime Day)
Hakkafe’s afternoon tea set (available on FunNow) includes two teas, two desserts and a savory dish for FunNow members. We tried the brownie and the tiramisu; both were moist, well-made and delicious. The brownie had a perfect crust and fudgy center, and the tiramisu was properly soaked in coffee liqueur. Try the Hakka BLT for a savory treat, with Hakka-style salted pork and Taiwanese pickled green chilis on a small but flavorful sandwich.Book Now
2.Line Up Dessert
This quirkly little place – referred to as both Lion and LineUp – is tucked away in a quiet alley off Minquan Road near MRT Zhongshan Elementary School station. Just inside the unassuming entry you’re greeted with a lifelike mural of a lion that takes up an entire wall. A vintage chandelier and gold-painted picture frames complete the ‘eccentric antique’ look.
The drink selections are typical for a Taiwanese cafe, but the desserts make this place worth a stop for afternoon tea. Relax with one of their ‘Belgian sets’, which includes a croque sandwich – the croque madame and the croque bolognese are both good – a drink and a dessert (sets for two come with two drinks, and you can split the sweet and savory dishes.) The cakes here are Western-style – we thoroughly enjoyed our mint chocolate cheesecake, the Belgian truffle cake caught our eye, and the lavender honey cake is also worth a try.Book Now
Not far from Line Up, near Minquan West Road and Daqiaotou MRT stations, you’ll find Angel Waffle. You might not expect to come across good afternoon tea in this neighborhood, but you’d be mistaken. Angel Waffle has kind of a ‘90s Taiwan vibe, painted with pastel pink and yellow, with a local crowd.
But the selling point here is the waffles: Angel Waffle is frequently booked solid, because the food is simply good. We had the waffle with chocolate and honey, and the chocolate almond waffle (with crushed almonds) – both were just the right amount of crispy and chewy, and just the right size for a light afternoon tea.Book Now
Most people don’t think of Beitou as a place to have high tea, but the WXYZ Bar in the Aloft Taipei (part of the W group of hotels) between Beitou and Qiyan MRT stations has one of the best in town. The bar itself is in the lobby, with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in tons of natural light. WXYZ’s tropical decor and sleek bar add to the ambiance.
We had the Pinkaholic tea set, which can easily feed 2 hungry people, as a proper high tea should: skip lunch if you come here.
Each Pinkaholic set comes with two pink, strawberry-flavored mocktails as well as two regular beverages, and three tiers of delicious treats on the same theme. The bottom layer is savory, with Quiche Lorraine, fried chicken skewered between wedges of pink waffles (with syrup) and truffle fries. Strawberry cakes, pink jellies and pink madeleines with strawberry-white chocolate shells complete the second layer, with the most delicate treats at the top: macarons, chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry mochi and chocolate bonbons. It’s the perfect place with the perfect food and drink to while away the afternoon gossiping or just catching up. (Read More: Exotic Food in Taipei: Spring in the Plates)Book Now
Live in Xindian, or stuck there for work? Think you have to go all the way to Taipei City for afternoon tea? Think again! Matcha Momo, a short walk from MRT Dapinglin station, has delicious Japanese-inspired options. Sets come with matcha tea or an Americano as well as light, airy chiffon cake flavored with matcha or roasted tea. For something more substantial, try their savory sets – we tried the Hiyori dry curry set, which comes with Japanese-style curried minced meat. Add a chiffon cake set and split both, and you’ve got an afternoon tea for two!
As you would expect, the matcha at Matcha Momo is exceptional, and the space is friendly, intimate and minimalist in a Japanese way. We lingered for awhile after finishing our meal and catching a bus (there’s a stop with buses to Taipei just outside) and never felt rushed.Book Now