Drinkipedia: The Lowdown on Taiwanese Drinks

PHOTOS BY Samil Kuo, Kavalan Whisky

Bubble milk tea was invented in 1980s in Taiwan and, over the past three decades, has proceeded to do nothing less than take over the world. While boba stands tall in the beverage world, other Taiwanese handmade drink stores are booming in Taipei as well, not to mention the growing market for craft beers and local whisky. (You might also like: [Taiwan Insider] The Origins of Bubble Tea with Chun Shui Tang)

It’s no secret that the choice of beverage is a big part of daily life for Taiwanese. In Taipei, you can find drink stores one after the other, choc-a-bloc on a single street, offering countless new types of drinks and flavors for people to enjoy. TAIPEI has rounded up some of the best drinks you can find in our country’s capital. From freshly-squeezed juice to high mountain tea, here’s everything you need to know about Taiwanese drinks and the background of each unique store. (Read more: Bubble Milk Tea and Beyond in Taiwan (part one))


Sugarcane Juice / ganzhezhi 甘蔗汁 /

Alexander the Great’s General Nearchus once reported, “A reed in India brings forth honey without the help of bees, from which an intoxicating drink is made though the plant bears no fruit.” The mystical reed is actually sugarcane, commonly found in Taiwan. Freshly squeezed sugarcane juice can be easily found on street corners at the chain store Sugarcane Mama (甘蔗媽媽). Popular items also include sugarcane juice with milk and sugarcane juice with lemonade. As sugarcane is rich in antioxidants, it can be helpful in fighting infections and boosting the immune system. Now, grab a cup of iced sugarcane juice and raise a toast to good health! (You might also like: Taipei Foodie Tour)

Fruit Tea / shuiguocha 水果茶 /

Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea (一芳水果茶) specializes in mixing tea and juice. Does that make it tea or juice? Well, judge for yourself! Yifang fruit tea, the most popular item on their menu, contains of a bit of oolong as a base. With lots of passion fruit juice and actual slices of apple and orange in the cup, it’s almost like you’re eating a plate of fruit. One of their secrets is to add homemade pineapple jam to balance the sourness. Not too sour, not too sweet. It’s all about spring! (Read more: Fruit Tourism is Taiwan’s Ripe New Trend!)

Kumquat Green Tea with Greengages
/ qinglong meiguoyin 青龍梅果飲 /

Kumquat Green Tea with Greengages from KOTEA (康青龍) is another drink that elevates tea with juice. With normal green tea as a base, you’ll see kumquat flesh spinning in the cup when you give it a stir. With a single sip, you’ll find it balances the bitterness of the tea with the contrasting flavors of sweet and sour. Don’t forget to rip off the plastic lid when you finish it. There will be two plums at the bottom of the cup. They’re the olive in the martini, or the cheese served with the wine. Enjoy!


The King’s 913 / jiuyisan cha wang 913 茶王 /

The King’s 913 from Ten Ren’s Tea ( 天仁茗茶) mainly consists of high-quality oolong tea leaves that are harvested from the mountains of Central Taiwan during spring and winter for the best tasting experience. The relatively lower temperature on the mountains reduces the need for pesticides which subsequently gives the tea leaves a sweeter taste. Moreover, the King’s 913 tea leaves are blended with a touch of American ginseng and leaves that give you a genuine mild sweetness. There’s a reason why it’s called the King. We salute you! (You might also like: Rural Tea Tour)

Signature Black Tea / shucheng hongcha 熟成紅茶 /

Signature Black Tea is the best seller of KEBUKE (可不可熟成紅茶). The tea leaves are carefully selected from Sri Lanka and preserved at the right temperature to be well fermented for a year in Taiwan. The fermentation will make the tea into a deeper amber color after brewing. You might find its taste is stronger and more astringent than others, but the sweet aftertaste follows immediately and last even longer. You’ll also find a fruity and floral scent when drinking it, which makes it a perfect choice to drink after having greasy or deep-fried food. (Read more: Sun Moon Lake: A Tea Lover’s Paradise)

Jade Oolong Tea / feicui wulong 翡翠烏龍 /

When Ching Shin ( 清心福全) was established 30-plus years ago, their only product at the time was oolong tea but not everybody’s favorite, boba. “Jade Oolong” is one of their signature drinks that was brought to the public in 2012. Using tea leaves picked from high mountains in Taiwan, the crystal green Jade Oolong enchants people with its elegant scent. The classic way of enjoying it is to have it plain. However, sugar can always be added if you prefer.