A very important concept in Taipei everyday life is convenience. You can get everything “on the go” and ready-made. Convenience stores like 7 Eleven can be found within at most 200m walking distance from one another and they all offer the same: one to two aisles filled with crisps and sweets, another one with toiletries, stationary and disposable pants, two fridge aisles with 便當, ready meals, (anything from Spag Bol to spicy tofu) that can conveniently be heated in the store’s own microwave and then eaten on a plastic chair outside.
Then there is one rack with more tr
aditional snacks like tea eggs, tofu sticks and other delicacies.
The largest part of such a store is usually taken up by a multitude of fridges, normally six to seven ones at least, containing the bigge
st choice of soft drinks I have ever seen.
Green tea, black tea, with or without sugar, soybean milk, fizzy lemonades, strawberry drinks, green bean jelly, papaya milk, you name it, they got it.
Grape spritz with milk? No probs!
If none of the above appeal to you, do not despair, there is more. In between the convenience stores you will find at least equally many “bubble tea shops” that offer hot and cold tea or coffee drinks of all sorts.
This works as follows:
You choose a tea base (green, black, jasmine…)
then decide on additional flavours (cherry, peach, lemon, red bean, guave, mango…), add bubbles if you like
and then answer the most important of all questions, 甜度冰塊正常嗎? Normal sweetness and amount of ice cubes?
According to this chart, 100% sugar is “normal”, i.e. the default setting. 70% sugar is “less sugar”, then there is “half”, “little” and none. If you’re not a kid or otherwise seriously sweet-toothed, I’d strongly recommend the 30% or less option, even though some shop owners may try to convince you that “the sweetest option tastes best”:
Although it takes me ages to decide on what to drink every time, what I like best about all this is the fact that the soft drink landscape is not dominated by a certain US company (whose products maybe fill one of above mentioned six fridges).
Right, that’s it for now, restaurant reviews to follow.