Category Archives: Delicacies

Poetry by the road

Somebody told somebody that I might be interested. That’s how, a typicalTaipeiraining morning, I met Zahira. The gathering of hundreds of cycle riders in a south park of the capital, cheered up by a big crowd of volunteers and the presence of Mr. Ma, the President of Taiwan, doesn’t seem the perfect atmosphere to find an enthusiast of organic tea. But, my will was leaving the city and drive the island in search of tea plantations, taste the brewing and knew how Taiwanese relate to one of their finest products and Zahira’s contact was now in my pocket.

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Hualien, Luye andTainanpassed by. And it was the time for a realSunMoonLakeexperience. The geography of this part of Nantou county is mesmerizing. Even though the touristy activities, who can say that Sun Moon lake isn’t a landmark, a place for connection with nature and oneself. I settled down and walked the shore while groups of tourists rush up to do all what they had in their program for the day. As per my schedule, my only rule was finding time for a good tea. At first sight, that place was not the best spot for tasty food and delicate tea, so I ended up sitting in a Ten Ren shop, a branch of a famous tea company, not bad at all, but not as unique as I was looking for. I should meet Zahira in the shop they had nearby the lake; she inspired me energy and a project filled with illusion. Maybe she was what I was searching.

It was not easy to find the tea shop nearby the road, probably because of my lack of understanding. And I must confess that when I found it, it kindly of disappointed me. You know those tinny road side business that inSpainsell just low quality products for tourists. So, I expected to find in the Tea Shop of Lohas, being skeptical is in my genes, I guess. But as soon as I entered, the smooth Spanish guitar made me feel a bit at home. Money, in charge of the tea, and Zahira started to explain me about their project and their lives. 7 people were at the moment involved in a project of organic agriculture that not only target the tea plantations, but a whole way of living according to community based understanding, with meditation as part of the daily routine and an excellent distribution of tasks in the plantations, shops and promotion of their products. Amazing women and men from places as far asKuala Lumpur, as Money, changed their lives in such a manner that could be an inspiration for many of the lost souls that these days roam in the postmodernity. Actually, it was a pleasure to listen to them. Their knowledge about the soil, the terroir that we say when talking about wines, their poetical way to name each and every harvest of those tea trees that were not watered to provide the real taste of the year over the plants. That was a sincere Lohas (acronym for the words Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability).

Money explained each variety with a sense of pause and slowly unveiled the meaning of the leaves. I got impressed by shaking (zen han) a winter oolong tea that was named after the earthquake, 4 springs was a variety that could be plucked 4 times a year, but my favorite was a black tea with a subtle natural scent of rose, rose red. They told me about their tea meditation activities where they work with youth to teach how through a cup of tea one can dive into himself, starting by the senses and ending up in a real search for the inner silence. And from that we jumped into the wu shi, one of the most fantastic stories about tea I heart inTaiwan. This tea is a green variety that a Taoist master selects every year in a very few plantations to be plugged exactly the summer solstice. They were lucky enough to get into the perfect moment of ripening some part of their plantation in the solstice of 2007. That is not something they wanted to do, but it happened to be there. According to the Taoist tradition, this tea is charged with yang, who has the power to calm down the yin, so it is good for those moody people, unlucky or not healthy ones. Their uniqueness to balance the spiritual energies of the Taiwanese believers make it quite costly (70€ for150 grams). I got totally trapped by the story of a tea that besides all its good properties also could provide you the balance.

In the Tea Shop of Lohas, not a single tea was unpleasant, and it was really difficult to say how much time I spent there tasting. The night overtook us and we prepared some simple, yet yummy, noodles. When I walked back to my scooter, parked in the garden, I kept thinking in their inspirational approach to life, in their courage for changing and how it was imprinted in their products. As if I were in a dream, everything could have evaporated as soon as I start the engine, but I am sure they are still working on it, in a permanent search for a balanced be in the world.  And that was their gift to me: reflection and balance.



Too many things happened in two days in Tainan. A festival with cntinueous parades and fireworks was having place, in honour of a 300 years-old temple. The group of believers carry the images of gods and fire crackers the whole day with traditional music and a dragon from time to time dancing in front of the temples here and there. It was almost impossible to avoid the parades in the city centre since they were long queus of images and music groups. At night, the show of fireworks started in the middle of the street just in front of Koxinga Shrine. The smell of gunpowder, the smoke in the air, the colours in the sky.

In Tainan, I discovered the yummiest food in Taiwan and its traditional culture. The oldest Confucius Temple in the island and several old temples and forts decorate a city that is famous for its delicious food. Rice cakes, juicy fruits, special nooddles, shrimp rice. Everything was a festival for the senses, and more than in the other cities I visited, the streets seemed the place to enjoy the gluttony.

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Unboring Taitung

Lonely Planet guide says about Taitung that it is a laid back undeveloped area with very local flavour. I don’t really know how was Taitung in 2006 when my guide was published, but at the moment it seems quite vibrant and lively, if you want with its own style. From the sea side bars to open air concerts, stylish cafés and all the elements of a modern Taiwanese city. After some days of mountains and sea shores, it was nice to have a touch of urban life. And, by chance, I ended in a super cute café, Cheella Café (395, Xinsheng Road) where I had super yummy cheese cake in a cosy atmosphere. A real good work of business, with lovely music and very kind waiters.

Later, I went to a local singer concert in Tie Hua Music Village, close to McDonalds in XinSheng Road. It is an interesting approach to a open air night club, with good prices, good music, good crowd. The singer was quite famous, apparently, and most in the public new her music. It is the second time in my life I see a singer crying while singing one of her songs. Really shocking, but in a way it shows how close to her music is she. As soon as the concert finished, I decided to go back to Luye, since the road was long and dark, but I loved the touch of city life of this southeastern cute capital.

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Din Tai Fung

Wow! Just landed and my program was quite hectic, but from the taxi to the dinner, everything seemed to be smooth. Can you imagine that the taxi driver gifted me with a glass of cold water in case I was thirsty. Later, my host took me to Din Tai Fung. Nowadays, there are branches of it even in Thailand, Australia or Japan, but the original branch was opened in Xiny Road, close to the famous YongKang Street, where many yummy restaurants are concentrated.

Din Tai Fung became very famous for foreigners when the New York Times considered it one of the 10 best restaurants in the World, but I guess the ones who made it grow were the locals. People queue in the street to get a table and enjoy one of those juicy steamed pork dumplings. Actually, we ate some other starter and prawn fried rice. Everything excellent. The service is extremely efficient and kind and showed me how to prepare the sauce to dip the dumplings in. That was a real unforgettable bite! And quite affordable, 2 people dinner = 480 NTD (12€)!