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[TEASHOPS & TEAHOUSES]Stylish and Trendy Tea Places

Date:2020-06-24 Number of Visitors:381

Where to Drink Excellent Tea and Indulge in Creative Tea Cuisine

TEXT / KIM WIENERS

PHOTOS / RAY CHANG, VISION

Cafés and coffee shops have become a prominent part of the street scene in Taipei and other major cities of Taiwan in recent years, but drinking tea remains an important part of daily life for many locals, especially the older generation. There is a great mix of tea shops and teahouses in Taipei, some long-established, others new and run by young and innovative proprietors. Tea lovers are spoilt for choice.

Qing Tian Teahouse

While coffee has taken center stage in most of the world, in Taiwan tea still reigns supreme. More than 20,000 tons of tea are produced on the island annually, and much of Taiwan’s modern history and culture is closely connected to the tea trade and the traditions, customs, and rituals that go along with tea consumption. Oolong produced here, the quintessential Taiwanese tea, is considered among the best in the world.

For the Taiwanese, the drinking of tea is socially ingrained – sharing a cup or two between friends, family members, classmates, co-workers, and even strangers just met is often an important bonding experience. Tea is also considered beneficial to one’s health – many elderly in Taiwan will swear by their daily cup. It is thought of as good for both the body and the soul. The act of preparing tea can be a process that makes you slow down and calms your mind, leaving you relaxed and refreshed.

In modern times, tea culture – like Taiwan itself – is constantly changing. Tea is brewed and consumed in simple ways, but also in elaborate traditional ceremonies. To experience tea drinking at its finest, there is no better way than visiting one of the many trendy teahouses you will find in Taiwan, serving a range of tea and tea-cuisine delights, such as afternoon tea sets, tea desserts, tea cocktails, and even beef noodles made with tea. It seems that Taiwan is turning its traditional tea-drinking culture upside down.

Guen Lung Tuan

Tea is a family affair at Guen Lung Tuan, a modern spin on the traditional tea shop/teahouse. Adorning the walls of this establishment are photographs of the owner’s family, which has been growing tea in central Taiwan’s Nantou County for several generations. Now, with the younger generation at the helm, Guen Lung Tuan is evolving. The teas served, light and refreshing, take on new character with the help of a carbonation machine. Originally used in the beer-brewing process, the machine adds sparkling fizz in a series of delectable teas reminiscent of champagne called Sparkling Chi Tea.

Other Guen Lung Tuan offerings reflect the proprietor’s belief in the importance of respecting Mother Nature in the process of growing, processing, and serving tea. While the teas of the Sparkling Chi Tea series represents chi/qi, or air/vital energy, teas of the Essence Tea series represent water. These teas have a pure, invigorating taste due to the high quality of the water used.

Teas of the Concentrated Tea series represent wine. They don’t contain alcohol, but have a rich, full-bodied taste that goes perfectly with the shop’s various cakes and desserts, creating an excellent afternoon tea experience.

Guen Lung Tuan’s wide tea selection, which includes traditional favorites such as Oriental Beauty, black tea, and oolong, are freshly prepared with water boiled on a hot plate right in front of guests – and poured with care. The staff is vastly knowledgeable, experts in choosing the correct temperature for each type of tea brewed. They create an experience that’s part artistic expression and part science.
Note: If you want to drink tea inside the teashop, you need to make a reservation.

Guen Lung Tuan (丨龍團)
Add: No. 32, Sec. 6, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City
(台北市南港區南港路三段50巷9號2樓)
Website (Chinese)
Tel: (02) 2727-2292

  • Making Sparkling Ohi Tea

    Making Sparkling Ohi Tea

Sin Hong Choon

Located in Taipei City's old Dadaocheng neighborhood north of Taipei Main Station, Sin Hong Choon stands as a reminder of the bustling tea trade at the Taipei riverside port once located here. This tea shop’s three-story Japanese-style building was first used for the tea business in 1934. After later falling into disrepair, it was listed as a historic site in 2009, and after extensive renovations was reopened in 2015.

Sin Hong Choon’s mission today is to bring tea to the citizens of Taipei, this time in a role as shop, museum, and cultural-education center. Visitors can learn about the history of the tea trade in Taiwan, purchase tea leaf in a traditional shop, and imagine the tea-packing process in the preserved assembly-line rooms. Exhibitions are held here in addition to the permanent collection of tea memorabilia, packing, and processing equipment, and all the accoutrements of a 1930s tea merchant.

Sin Hong Choon (新芳春茶行)
Add: No. 309, Minsheng W. Rd., Datong Dist., Taipei City
(台北市大同區民生西路309號)
Tel: (02) 2550-4141

  • Tea utensils

    Tea utensils

  • Old tea-processing equipments

    Old tea-processing equipments

Qing Tian Teahouse

Taipei’s Yongkang Street area, near the Taipei Metro’s MRT Dongmen Station, has become a popular go-to spot for foodies. A stop at Qing Tian Teahouse is a must when visiting this area. Located on Qingtian Street, the teahouse is in an old building, part of a historic block that was originally used as housing for Japanese professors. The former residence was renovated and converted into an art gallery and teahouse in 2011. Visitors can take a step back in time to imagine what life was like for the former residents. Many art objects and relics line the walls, all well-preserved and immaculately displayed.

Inside the teahouse you can try excellent teas from mainly two tea-growing areas in Taiwan, Lugu in Nantou County (Dongding Oolong Tea) and Jiuhuashan in Miaoli County (Oriental Beauty Tea). The tea is served with delicious sweets, including mung bean cake and date walnut cake.

Qing Tian Teahouse (青田茶館)
Add: No. 12, Ln. 8, Qingtian St., Da’an Dist., Taipei City
(台北市大安區青田街8巷12號)
Website
Tel: (02) 2391-6676

  • Qing Tian Teahouse
  • Qing Tian Teahouse

Hermit's Hut

This small, minimalist-design tea shop located in the Xinyi District invites you to take a deep breath and relax. Started by a tea collector, Hermit's Hut is a paradise for lovers of rare teas, brewed the traditional way. The focus here is on the experience and enjoyment of tea, hence the modest and simple décor of the shop. Visitors to Hermit's Hut are instructed in the delicate steps of the tea ceremony and offered advice on the best type of tea to choose, based on taste preferences. There are 36 teas to choose from, hand-selected by a team of tea enthusiasts. Many of the choices – such as tea made from a single, hundred-year-old tree – are the true definition of “limited edition.” Teas are seasonally selected, and the ever-changing lineup makes Hermit's Hut a fantastic place for a repeat visit, while the uniqueness of the teas makes for a one-of-a-kind tea experience as well. For those looking to gift tea to family and friends, Hermit's Hut also sells tea online.

Hermit's Hut (三徑就荒)
Add: No. 15, Aly. 46, Ln. 553, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City
(台北市信義區忠孝東路四段553巷46弄15號)
Website(Chinese)
Tel: (02) 2746-6929

  • Hermit's Hut

    Hermit's Hut

U Cha

In the center of Taipei’s old Dadaocheng neighborhood lies Taipei's historic Dihua Street. In recent years this street, best known for long-established shops selling tea, fabrics, Chinese medicines, and sun-dried goods, has taken on new character as home to boutiques, restaurants, and teahouses – one of which is U Cha. This teahouse is well known for a one-of-a-kind fusion tea, which the proprietor blends by hand. It is a perfect companion to the tea-infused cuisine served. Oolong tea beef noodles, a twist on a traditional favorite, is a spicy dish enjoyed alongside an oolong/coffee-blend drink. The oolong tea used in the sauce is a great complement to the spiciness, creating a taste that’s both familiar and novel.

After noshing on noodles, make sure to order the shop’s specialty: old-tea jelly. Lighter than pudding but just as tasty, the jelly can be eaten with or without a unique sugar and tea mixture poured on top. The mixture itself, with a honey-like sweetness, enhances the flavor of the tea, taking it to another level of taste. U Cha prides itself on offering exclusively Taiwanese tea in its family-run shop, believing homegrown to be the top of the crop. If you like what you've tasted, their Alishan-grown tea leaf choices are available for purchase right in the shop.

U Cha (遊茶)
Add: No. 276, Sec. 1, Dihua St, Datong Dist., Taipei City
(台北市大安區迪化街一段276號)
Tel: 0931-124-888

  • Old-tea jelly (U Cha)

    Old-tea jelly (U Cha)

  • Oolong tea beef noodles (U Cha)

    Oolong tea beef noodles (U Cha)

Chun Shui Tang

Taiwanese bubble tea has taken over the world, and it all started with one business, Chun Shui Tang. This Taichung-based tea seller, now an ever-growing chain operation with branches in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, claims to have invented the drink back in the 1980s – and has spent the decades since perfecting it. Smooth, rich milk tea and light, bubbly pearls make up the shop’s signature tea – a formula that has been copied many times over but never as impeccably as here. The store’s décor, modeled after traditional Song Dynasty motifs, sets the scene for enjoyment of such classic Taiwanese fare as dried tofu, braised foods, beef noodles and, of course, tea.

A must-try dish is the tea-flavored spicy hotpot – only available at their Central Taiwan Science Park Yongfu Branch and the Fengyuan Branch – combining two of Taiwan’s best-loved cuisine items. Chun Shui Tang makes for a great introduction to both Taiwanese tea and snacks, and a good place to spend an afternoon enjoying both while chatting away with friends.

Chun Shui Tang (春水堂)
Add: No. 141, Yongfu Rd., Xitun Dist., Taichung City
(Central Taiwan Science Park Yongfu Branch)
(台中市西屯區永福路141號) (中科永福店)
Website(Chinese)
Tel: (04) 2461-8651

  • Tea-flavored spicy hotpot
  • Tea-flavored spicy hotpot

Tea Dessert House (TDH)

Tea Dessert House’s bold green exterior invites curious tea lovers into a new world of fusion – the shop specializes in tea-based desserts, ranging from cakes to cookies to chocolate. Chocolate flakes, one of the shop’s most popular confections, feature Taiwanese teas from Sun Moon Lake Assam to Muzha Tieguanyin packed into tasty bite-sized pieces. Hungry for more? Tea Dessert House also sells tea embedded in tiramisu, puffs, mochi, cheesecake, cookies, pineapple cakes, and even ice cream. Gifts for tea lovers abound, as you can also buy tea leaf separately or in one of several gift sets. Tea Dessert House has two locations in Taipei, and also has an outlet in Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport, and its items are also available for purchase online, so be sure to grab some treats for friends and family back home.

Tea Dessert House (貓茶町)
Add: No. 27, Ln. 113, Sec. 3, Minsheng E. Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei City
(Minsheng Branch)
(台北市松山區民生東路三段113巷27號 (民生店)
Website
Tel: (02) 2712-9900

Maokong Café Alley (貓空Café 巷)

The Maokong area, located in Taipei City’s Wenshan District just south of the Taipei Zoo, has long been famous for the multitudes of teahouses and tea restaurants that dot the mountainside. Setting itself apart, Maokong Café Alley has taken to inventing new desserts for visitors to enjoy. After a day of exploring the area, choosing from among the number of hiking trails, settle in to relax with one of their sweet treats – Baozhong or Tieguanyin tea ice cream, cheesecake, sundaes, and smoothies – for a delicious dessert experience.

Maokong Café Alley (貓空Café 巷)
Add: No. 35-5, Ln. 38, Sec. 3, Zhinan Rd., Wenshan Dist., Taipei City
(台北市文山區指南路三段38巷33-5號)
Website
Tel: (02) 2234-8637

Smith & Hsu

The best example of a contemporary, trendy teahouse in Taipei may be Smith & Hsu. Here you can choose from a wide selection of teas in a laid-back setting. Afternoon tea is popular, with an abundance of options for those dining with friends or alone. Visitors are invited to choose a tea based on its aroma, selecting one that’s most pleasant to the drinker. After 6pm, you can enjoy the shop’s tea cocktails, including a delightful lightly alcoholic concoction made with lychee and oolong tea. The fruity, refreshing cocktails come in several other variations, including lychee and mint, Assam with Bailey's Irish Cream, and black tea with orange liqueur.

Smith & Hsu
Add: No. 36, Sec. 1, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City
(台北市中山區南京東路1段36號)
Website(Chinese)
Tel: (02) 2562-5565

  • Smith & Hsu
  • Smith & Hsu

Ateliea Tea Nankang Tea Bistro

With a look that combines retro and modern, and a convenient location on the first floor of The Place Taipei hotel in Nangang District, the Ateliea Tea Nankang Tea Bistro is quickly becoming a destination of choice among locals and travelers alike. Here, diners can choose from a revitalizing tea with wine and several varieties of Taiwanese tea and other tea-based drinks. Try the osmanthus red oolong tea, one of the shop's best, or the distinctive, rich, and decidedly one-of-a-kind black tea beer.

Ateliea Tea Nankang Tea Bistro (不二堂南港老爺店/少爺請坐)
Add: No. 196, Jingmao 2nd Rd., Nangang Dist., Taipei City (inside The Place Taipei)
(台北市南港區經貿二路196號1樓(南港老爺行旅))
Website(Chinese)
Tel: (02) 7709-2069

  • Ateliea Tea Nankang Tea Bistro
  • Ateliea Tea Nankang Tea Bistro

English and Chinese:

Baozhong 包種
chi/qi 氣
Concentrated Tea 濃淬茶
Dadaocheng 大稻埕
Dihua Street 迪化街
Essence Tea 菁淬茶
Maokong 貓空
Nangang District 南港區
Nantou County 南投縣
Sparkling Chi Tea 氣淬茶
Taipei Zoo 台北動物園
The Place Taipei 南港老爺行旅
Tieguanyin 鐵觀音
Wenshan District 文山區
Xinyi District 信義區
Yongkang Street 永康街

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    Last update time: 2020-06-24
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