Chun Shui Tang (春水堂)

Friday, 31 March 2017

When you think of Taiwan, one of the first things that will come to your mind is "pearl milk tea" (珍珠奶茶) or "bubble tea" (波霸奶茶). Next will probably be night markets. While there are almost hundreds of variations of "bubble tea" out there now with creamy or fruity flavours and an abundant choice of toppings, I still prefer for the original milk tea or the more simple drinks, like green tea or black tea. But whatever it is you prefer, they are a type of drink that you cannot miss when you're in the country—think of it as the coffee or tea equivalent to many Western countries.

Although I rarely have it in Sydney, I'm a pretty big fan of pearl milk tea itself. (I still can't get my head around the term "bubble tea".) But since we were in Taiwan, the country of 珍珠奶茶, Shirley and I literally went ham on it, drinking about one a day for 8 days straight. Therefore, we knew that we had to visit the teahouse that invented* the worldwide phenomena: Chun Shui Tang (春水堂). Originating in the 1980s, the birthplace of the beverage is actually in Taichung, but we didn't get the chance to go there so we went to the Zhongzheng branch (中正) Taipei instead—which is located at the base of the National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳).

*Hanlin Tea Room (翰林茶館) is the other place who also claims that they are the creator of pearl milk tea. We didn't know this until we went to a random teahouse for lunch at Taoyuan International Airport did we see such statement on their menu (and googled it).

So for dinner we had: bean curd with mushroom (金菇豆皮), black chicken (silkie) yam soup (准山烏骨帝王鷄湯), thin noodles (家傳細麵), vegetarian spicy dry noodles (素麻香麵線), pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶), and a black tea with pearls (珍珠紅茶). Everything cost us NTD$555, which is about AUD$24.

Overall, the food was quite good (particularly the noodles), but the meal wasn't so memorable as I had hoped. But what I was most disappointed about was the pearl milk tea. Although we had about 10 or so pearl milk teas from different franchises prior to eating at the restaurant, I was anticipating the one at Chun Shui Tang the most—you know, being the creator of the beverage—but it let me down the most. It didn't have enough "tea" and tasted very watered down. Maybe the competition has increased significantly over the past years with the rapid expansion of bubble tea, so in comparison to some of the franchises like 50 Lan (50嵐) and Teapatea (茶湯會), it did relatively poorly and didn't meet our expectations. On the other hand, the black tea we had was really good because of it's perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

Bubble tea is no joke in Taiwan. It wasn't until we were in Taiwan that they differentiate so distinctly each variant of the drink. For one, "bubble tea" (波霸奶茶) is with the big tapioca balls, and "pearl milk tea" (珍珠奶茶) is with the small tapioca balls. In Sydney, there's really no difference between the two because we only have the big pearls at franchises like ChaTime, Easyway and Gongcha and they're all labelled as "珍珠奶茶". So whenever we ordered a drink in Taiwan, especially at the franchises, we had to specify "boba" or 波霸 to make sure I was getting the bigger pearls which we prefer. At Chun Shui Tang, however, there was only one "pearl milk tea" option.

Secondly, people in Taiwan are very specific about tailoring each drink to your preference. Once you've decided on your drink, you'll then be asked the amount of ice (no ice, half ice or full ice), the level of sweetness (0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%), and whether you want additional toppings.

Maybe the chef at Chun Shui Tang was just having a bad day, but I'd like to give it the benefit of the doubt and would like to try their pearl milk tea again. In fact, I still want to go to their original store in Taichung. The ambience of the Zhongzheng branch was nice, but food-wise, we definitely had better elsewhere.

Chun Shui Tang (春水堂)
No. 21-1, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
台北市 中正區 中山南路21之1號

Post a Comment

© FLFIONA. Design by FCD.