People may not have a clear understanding of Taiwanese cuisine since there are so few available options, even in a city like Los Angeles, but one aspect that’s pretty clear is that country brought the world boba. Those glutinous tapioca balls lie in wait at the bottom of milk teas before people hoover them through oversized, candy-colored straws. Chun Shui Tang, a Taiwanese favorite for boba and teas, dates to 1983 in the central Taiwan city of Taichung. We weren’t able to make it to that central Taiwanese city, but the creator of Pearls (aka boba) has a branch in the basement of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store, just north of the Taipei Rail Station and the whimsical tiled creatures of Zhongshan Metro Mall, and we had to try it.
I settled into a wood table at a lantern-lit teahouse overlooking the women’s shoe showroom, and of course ordered pearl milk tea (NT$ 75 ~ $2.50). My glass contained small, supple black tapioca pearls in frothy, hand-shaken black milk tea. Was this the boba of my dreams? Probably. It was certainly well balanced, which rarely happens in Los Angeles. Boba creator Lin Hsiu Hui has left a lasting impact on Taiwanese culture, and the world of beverages.
Interesting options included lemon jasmine tea with fig jelly and oolong tea, which we’ll try on a return visit. However, for my first time at Chun Shui Tang, it was all about the boba.