Saturday, May 26, 2007

Afternoon Tea

We lived close to Shimen Resevoir (shi men shui koo) when I was growing up. I never really appreciated how lovely the flora was around that area until returning to it many years later. According to guidebooks-for-white-people-looking-to-do-things-off-the-beaten-path, it is a great day trip destination if one were a tourist in Taipei.
This is the field in front of the place where we had afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is usually reserved for cultures influenced by the British Empire when it was an empire, but the practice can be adopted by anyone who has nothing better to do in the afternoons than chat with one's friends. I've always marveled at how skinny Taiwanese people are despite how much they eat. If you think about it, they have 5-meal days: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and latenight snack at the night market...and model-sized is considered "big-boned." I'll have whatever they're having.
Notice we are carrying umbrellas on a sunny day. One should just get in the habit of using an umbrella, rain or shine. Later that day, it started flash-flooding, and the umbrellas that were previously preventing us from tanning sheltered us from the rain.
I think this bottle of mint water was just for decoration, but the commercialized version of that, metromint, is one of my favorite beverages.
Standard offerings at a Taiwanese afternoon tea parlor, clockwise from left: whole wheat bagel, mango flan/custard (mang guo nai lao), green tea and sesame stick of some sort, and whipped cream drizzled with mango coulis. Bagels are a relatively novel food item in Taiwan, and the nai lao is the latest craze in custard-looking desserts. There's even a restaurant in Nei Hu (in Taipei) that sells ONLY nai lao!

Every Taiwanese kid has had an infatuation with boo ding at some point in their lives. It is called flan only to make it comparable to something in the Western world, but the Taiwanese version is actually more gelatinous and less creamy than Spanish or South American flan. Nai Lao hits somewhere between the creaminess of traditional Spanish flan and the bounciness of Taiwanese flan. This ramekin of mango nai lao is covered in mango coulis. I thought it went well with the vibrant fuschia of the flower.
Here's another plate, this time with a blueberry bagel. The green leaves are fresh mint.
I ordered a iced green milk tea, but it came out as matcha-flavored milk with ice and some stewed sweet red beans as garnish. Not the best I've tasted, as it was slightly too sweet, but it makes for a pretty beverage.
I should have gone with the hot green milk tea, pictured below.

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