Five of the Hottest Taiwan Tea Bars

Taiwan has a very colourful tea history. 

© Shutterstock

tea-varieties

Taiwan has a very colourful tea history. 

© Shutterstock

The Dutch were the first to record the discovery of wild tea trees on Taiwan in 1,645 AD. Subsequently, Chinese immigrants brought tea plants and oolong tea-making skills to the island. In the early 20th century, the Japanese came with black tea varieties and started to promote Taiwanese teas at world trade fairs.

The invention of bubble tea in the 80s radically changed the way tea was drunk on the island. Bubble tea has not only taken Taiwan by storm (over one billion cups are drunk there every year) but it has also gone viral globally. In recent years, tea drinking culture has further evolved with young people keen to learn more about Taiwanese tea in its pure form. This has seen many innovative tea bars (locally called “tea spaces”) spring up all over the island.  

Here are our top five picks:

A worker picking tea leaves. 

© Shutterstock

Ainsi Thé, Taipei

Angela Chang‘s family has been in the tea-growing and trading business for generations. After studying in the US and UK, Angela opened Ainsi Thé in 2021 at the age of 28.

Unlike the traditional tea outlets such as the one that Angela’s father runs, where people can pop in casually to taste tea for free and buy it if they like it, Ainsi Thé provides a charming and cozy space where people can drink teas from specific cultivars by the glass. Having long-term relationships with many respectable tea growers, Ainsi Thé is one of a handful of tea bars that are able to get hold of Oriental Beauty teas made by legendary tea master Jiang Zhao Xuan. 

In addition to her in-depth knowledge of Taiwanese oolong teas, Angela is also a Pu-erh tea expert. Don’t miss Ainsi Thé’s regular horizontal tea tastings where customers can compare different teas in one sitting and get the chance to taste vintage teas such as Pu-erh tea dating back to the 1950s.  

Ainsi Thé


[tei] by O'BOND, Taipei

The brain behind [tei] by O'BOND is Tom Liu, the La Maison Cointreau International Champion 2019. Together with a team of designers, Tom’s vision for [tei] is to present the uniqueness of Taiwanese tea through the layers of flavours in cocktails.

Every detail of [tei] has been carefully thought through. The interior design is minimalist, calm and neutral, with a nostalgic atmosphere. The tree, wooden stalls, vintage wicker cupboards and even the flooring are presented in an aesthetical and modern way.

The tea is sourced from all over Taiwan. The menu currently includes 19 tea-based cocktails. Each is made from a specific tea cultivar and their flavours are cleverly extracted and layered up with various spirits or other ingredients in order to highlight the base tea’s flavour profile. After tasting all 19 cocktails (maybe not all in one visit), customers will be familiar with the main tea categories (including rare yellow tea) and impressed by how the team has captured the nuances of various tea flavours. 

Opened during the pandemic, [tei] by O'BOND has already become the talk of the town. They are fine-tuning their cocktail menu daily and are still in a “soft launch” period, which means each time you visit, there should be a nice surprise on the menu waiting to be discovered.

[tei] by O'BOND


Zen Zen Thé, Taichung

Crice Lan is a tea expert, author of two books on tea and sake sommelier. He opened Zen Zen Thé in May 2021. Inspired by the concept of fine-dining, Zen Zen Thé presents and serves teas  as if they were wines in Michelin-starred restaurants.

You can order tea à la carte or try a seasonal set of five teas, mainly from Taiwan but also India and Japan. The order of service is based on the tea’s flavours, served like a five-course menu. The guests are taken on a flavour journey from cold brew teas in wine glasses to hot teas in cups.  

All the Taiwanese teas are meticulously selected from small growers and the tea-baking process is impeccably managed by Crice himself. The team also put a strong emphasis on the quality of water used for brewing. As a sake sommelier, Crice believes tea and sake are a match made in heaven, so make sure you try that pairing when you visit.

Zen Zen Thé


Hu Tu The Tea, Tainan

Sommelier Yang Duan owns a successful pastry and wine shop, SommWhere, in Tainan, in the south of Taiwan. Like many of the country's wine professionals, she was interested in tea from a young age and always dreamt of opening a tea bar. The dream came true in 2021.

Hu Tu’s concept is simple: Yang wants to demystify Taiwanese teas and make them more accessible to younger customers. She has adapted the principles of wine tasting to tea, for example serving cold brew Taiwanese single cultivar teas in wine glasses.

Hu Tu has attracted many wine lovers and has become one of the most Instagrammable tea bars in Tainan.

Hu Tu The Tea


Yǐmù, Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung is the largest harbour city in the south of Taiwan. Unlike the north where tea is mostly drunk with friends in tea bars, people in the south tend to invite guests to their houses to drink tea. Opening a pure tea bar in Kaohsiung is not for the faint-hearted.

Mi-Chi Shi has been a tea connoisseur since the 1980s. Having previously opened a tea shop and worked in other tea restaurants, in 2020 she felt it was time to open her own tea space in Kaohsiung where customers could appreciate tea in its simplest and purest forms.

All the teas are traditionally brewed and served in traditional teacups. Nothing modern or gimmicky. The three-floor building has a sophisticated, artistic design – and just like the owner herself, the space has an air of elegance. When visiting Yǐmù, don’t miss the art exhibitions that Mi-Chi hosts regularly through collaborations with local artists.

Yǐmù

FIND OUT MORE

  • 31.03.2022
    A Colour Coded Guide to Tea
    There are literally thousands of teas around the world, but traditional tea can be broken down into six main colour categories. Find out...
  • 15.03.2022
    A Short History of Earl Grey Tea
    Earl Grey is one of the most recognisable and famous teas in the world. Here's how the beverage that's as quintessentially English as...
  • 29.03.2022
    Taiwan’s Top Five Wine Bars
    Taiwan's wine culture is as rich and vibrant as its cuisine. The island is now not only making its own wines but also offers plenty of great...
  • 21.10.2021
    Culinary Journey through Asia
    More than all-you-can-eat buffets, sushi and crispy duck: Asia is full of culinary treasures and sophisticated preparation methods that are...
  • 20.10.2021
    The Best Honey Varieties for Toast, Tea & More
    Honey has long been prized both as a natural sweet treat and for its health benefits. Here are 5 that will get your tastebuds buzzing.