It is believed that Taiwan's tea-drinking culture started in Taichung and Chun-shui Tang is a popular place for people to hang out and drink tea, or take a simple meal or snack at the same time.
The tea house has come up with quite a few cool inventions in the past such as foam black tea and pearl cream tea, that were first introduced to the Taiwan public, in 1983 and 1987 respectively. The pearl cream tea mixed by Chun-shui Tang is still considered unbeatable, however, and Chun-shui Tang is now operating as a chain store, having spread to the major cities and based itself in Taichung.
The tea house located by International Street near the Tunghai University campus is unique because it is in a street lined with artefact shops, boutique stores and gourmet restaurants. It is a one-way street and is usually packed with people during the weekends, and in the evenings on most weekdays when the university faculty and students come to patronize their favorite restaurants.
PHOTO: DEREK LEE, TAIPEI TIMES
Most of the tables in the tea house are arranged to lean against a large beautifully-shaped glass window through which sunlight filters through fine bamboo curtains. Little potted plants and elegant flower arrangements at every turn are pleasing to the eyes and create a good mood. The second-floor interior and teak-wood furniture of the place gives visiting guests the idea of a traditional Taiwanese tea house, yet with a modern and clever twist.
Best of all the food served with the teas is generally good, with a refined taste. The square-shaped brown sugar teacake introduced last year proved to be a knock-out for its smooth taste. It is a bit sweet at first bite. Yet, with a sip of the tea, the taste in your mouth turns and make the tea flavor much more fragrant.
If you care for a simple repast, the set meal of ground-pork with pickle is probably the best bet. The dish is served in a chinaware bowl with steamed meatballs mixed with thick sliced black mushrooms and egg yolk. Green vegetables are served on the side. The soup goes well with the white rice. The side dish of daikon pickles is neither hot nor salty.
Furthermore, your side order of tea -- either oolong, jasmine or another kind, with ice or hot -- always comes with extra-large cups or a teapot and will add to the satisfaction of the meal. -- Derek Lee
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