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Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan

Taiwan Nightlife & Entertainment

  
 
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As Taiwan is a subtropical island with the south part in the tropics, it cannot hurt to drink a lot, especially during summertime. Drink vending machines can be found virtually everywhere and are filled with all kinds of juices, tea and coffee drinks, soy milk and mineral water.

Water

As a general rule, tap water in Taiwan is safe for drinking after boiling. Any water or ice you are served in restaurants will already have been processed. Water fountains in Taiwan always incorporate filters, and they can be found in practically every lodge or hotel as well as larger museums and Taipei MRT stations. You can refill and reuse your bottles at these fountains as well. If you can't find one, then you should buy bottled water. Another source of potable water are the coin-operated pumps that look like gasoline pumps. These are easy to find in residential areas.

For tourists, most hotels provide complimentary bottles of mineral water in each room. All convenience stores sell bottled water.

Another reason for drinking previously boiled or bottled water in Taiwan is that Taiwan is a seismic active zone. Because of the large number of earthquakes, water pipes are easily damaged, allowing contaminants to enter the water prior to it reaching the tap. Therefore drinking previously boiled or bottled water is probably a wise choice.

Alcohol

Taiwan's legal age to consume alcohol is 18 years of age. Minors caught drinking can face fines ranging from NT$10000 to NT$50000. Traditional alcoholic drinks in Taiwan are very strong. Kaoliang is the most famous alcoholic drink. A distilled grain liquor, it is extremely strong and often drunk straight. Taiwan also produces many types of Shaoxing rice wine, which are considered by many as being some of the best in the world.

Taiwanese people enjoy beer on ice. A wide variety of imported beers are available, but the standard is Taiwan Beer, produced by a government corporation. It is brewed with fragrant penglai rice in addition to barley giving it a distinctive flavor.

Tea and coffee

Taiwan's specialty teas are High Mountain Oolong (Gao-shan wulong) - a fragrant, light tea, and Tie Guan-yin - a dark, rich brew. Enjoying this tea, served in the traditional way using a very small teapot and tiny cups, is an experience you should not miss. This way of taking tea is called lao ren cha - 'old people's tea', and the name is derived from the fact that only the elderly traditionally had the luxury of time to relax and enjoy tea in this way. Check the small print when visiting a traditional tea house though: in addition to the tea itself, you may be charged a cover (literally "tea-water fee") for the elaborate process of preparing it as well as for any nibbles served on the side.

One should also try Lei cha, a tasty and nourishing Hakka Chinese tea-based beverage consisting of a mix ground tea leaves and grain. Some stores specialize in this product and allows one to grind their own lei cha.

Pearl milk tea, aka "bubble tea" or "boba tea", is milky tea with chewy balls of tapioca added, drunk through an over-sized straw. Invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s and a huge Asia-wide craze in the 1990s, it's not quite as popular as it once was but can still be found at nearly every coffee/tea shop. Look for a shop where it is freshly made.

The cafe culture has hit Taiwan in a big way, and in addition to an abundance of privately owned cafes, all the major chains, such as Starbucks, have a multitude of branches throughout major towns and cities.

Other drinks

Taiwan is a great place for fruit drinks. Small fruit-juice bars make them fresh on the spot and are experts at creating fruit-juice cocktails (non-alcoholic, of course). zong-he - mixed - is usually a sweet and sour combination and mu-gwa niou-nai is iced papaya milk. If you don't want ice (though it is safe in Taiwan, even at road side vendors) say, chu bing and no sugar - wu tang.

Soy milk is a great treat hot or cold. Savoury soy milk is a traditional Taiwanese breakfast dish. It is somewhat of an acquired taste as vinegar is added to curdle the milk. Both sweet and savory soy milk are often ordered with you-tiao, or deep fried dough crullers.

There are a lot of pseudo health drinks in Taiwanese supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as energy drinks like Comebest.





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