Chapter 0.3 – Boba Tea Culture |「飲み文化」| 手搖杯文化

 

I believe by now, the year of 2016, most people should have heard of boba/bubble/tapioca/pearl tea already. And yes, it originated here in the subtropical island of Taiwan. Boba tea is the soul food to Taiwanese people. It is like burgers to Americans, fish and chips to English, pasta to Italians or sushis to Japanese. Pick your choice – whatever your stereotype is, you can’t possibly mention Taiwanese cuisine without mentioning the little (or huge) milk tea drink with black, shinny and chewy pearl balls.

Every time I am back in the motherland, there always seem to be something new – new nightmarket small eats, new fancy restaurants, new MRT lines, new fashion trends, etc. In case you haven’t heard, Taiwan is the country that has the most densely populated convenience stores in the world. In Taipei, where I grew up, you can pretty much guarantee there’s at least one 7-11, Family Mart, Hi-Life, OK Mart or any other brand in every block. I just did a little Google search and apparently the ratio is 2000 residents: 1 convenience store. Pretty crazy, right? However, these few years, I am starting to feel like we might have just as many drink shops or 手搖杯 (which literally translates to hand shake drinks) on the island.

If you’re from the Bay Area or the West Coast, perhaps you’re familiar with a lot of the brand names like: Chatime, Gong Cha, T4, CoCo, Comebuy, OO Tea, Tea Top, Ten Ren (Tea Station), etc. So on this trip, I tried going to the ones that haven’t made it over across the Pacific Ocean. The rule was simple – a boba a day keeps the doctor away. Wait, you asking me about diet and health? Not when you’re in Taiwan, my friend.


タピオカミルクティー、日本でもたまに耳に入るデザート名。でも、それの発祥地は台湾のことって知ってますか?アメリカンならハンバーガー、イングリッシュならフィッシュアンドチップス、イタリアンならパスタ、和食なら寿司っても言うように、台湾人のソウルフードなら絶対珍珠奶茶(ジェンジュウナイチャア)って考えても過言ではないね。

毎回帰省するたんびに必ず驚くのは「手搖杯(タピオカミルクティーからはじめ台湾風の飲み物)」の数。台湾は世界一コンビニ多い国。日本をも上回る割合で恐ろしい2000人に1軒のコンビニの密度。でも、近年は手搖杯屋さんもだんだん後追ってきた気がする。自分の知ってる限り、東京中心に進出したのは春水堂とComebuyだけだけど、本場の台湾で20個以上(自分の見積もり)のチェインもあるようだ。今回は頑張って、一日一杯のペースで飲んできたけど、さすがに限界ぎりぎりで、もう腹筋も六個から1つになり、残りの台湾タイムはまだ3日だけど、お手上げギブです。


珍珠奶茶。如果你是台灣人,我想我也不必多說了。在這個手搖杯多到一個跟小七一樣多誇張的年代,你一杯我一杯,你儂我儂好像隨處可見。隨著近年來外國觀光客的增加再加上幾家老+新字號在國外的展店,珍珠奶茶其實也可以算做個另類的「台灣之光」。這篇文章我想住在台灣的你/妳肯定比來個10天的short stay的我更了,所以就當作我是個用歪果郎的角度在賣弄知識,還請多多見諒。

在美國各地尤其是西岸其實近年也已經有許多台灣的名店進出。像是CoCo,Comebuy,日出茶太,台灣第一茶,貢茶,天仁茗茶,五十嵐等等,甚至是當地亞裔居民自創的品牌,其實大城市裡的美國人對珍珠奶茶(西岸比較常叫波霸 Boba)已不陌生。如果你是LA的朋友想必你沒嚐過也一定聽過伴伴堂Half & Half。又或者你如果是北加的朋友,那你對Teaspoon,Purple Kow或是Boba Guy一定也不陌生。雖說近年美國的水準也越來越高,但回台灣還是難免不得不朝聖一下。畢竟不在台灣騎機車喝珍奶就是不夠熱血青春啊!這次回台至少一天一杯。什麼?你說一天一杯會肥死?難得回台灣就別管那麼多啦!

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