Aside from enjoying all kinds of snacks in Taiwan, you also should not miss the special delicacies of each area. These products often come with gift packaging service, which is convenient for travelers who want to take them home as gifts for friends and relatives.
Although Taiwan is small, there is a wide variety of products which it has made uniquely its own. These not only make fine gifts for friends and relatives, but they also allow you to take home a true piece of Taiwan.
With a reputation of being a tea empire, Taiwan has topography and climate that are perfect for growing tea plants. There are many varieties of tea available in Taiwan; among these, Wenshan Baozhong Tea, Dongding Oolong (Wulong) Tea, Pekoe Oolong (Baihao Wulong) Tea, and Tie Guanyin are the four mainstream teas.
You can pick up virtually any type of teapot in department stores or tea stores. If you want to buy a piece of porcelain culture aside from having a teapot to boil tea in, go to Yingge, the ceramics capital of Taiwan. Yingge's Jianshanpu Rd. is a newly designed pedestrian area, and the whole shopping area provides various types of porcelain products. This is the best place to buy your teapot and have a look around.
Major department stores and supermarkets have special stalls that sell tea, which makes this national beverage readily available. Besides, there is also the tea bag, a simple and convenient way to enjoy a cup of tea.
Pineapple is widely grown here in Taiwan, which is also known for producing canned pineapple, pineapple drinks, and pineapple jams. Pineapple is also made into pineapple cake, with the pineapple's sweet and sour taste mingling with the loose, soft outer skin that seems to melt in your mouth; definitely worth giving it a taste... and more!
Shaoxing and Gaoliang Wines
The water quality of the Ailan Plateau, located on the western side of Puli Township, Nantou County, is pure and sweet. Because of the water's unique qualities, it is considered the primary "Shaoxing wine spring." Made by fermenting glutinous rice, Penglai rice, wheat, and other ingredients, the golden yellow Shaoxing wine has a dry, sweet taste.
Kinmen, with its hot, dry weather and unpolluted environment, is the best place to make Gaoliang spirit. Thanks to excellent water quality, the Gaoliang produced here is superior in quality and fine in taste.
In Matsu, with the uniqueness of the local spring water, brews such as Daqu, Gaoliang, and Matsu Old Wine are most popular. Clear ruby-colored Matsu Old Wine is not just a favored drink on Matsu, but is also widely used in Chinese cooking.
A variety of flavors are produced when plums, kumquats, mangoes, and other fresh fruits are rubbed with salt and preserved by adding sugar. Basically, the salty flavors of preserved fruits come from the salt rubbed on them, the sweet taste comes from the sugar, and the sourness is a result of fermentation. People in Taiwan call these preserved fruits "salty, sour, and sweet," which is an appropriate moniker for their unique taste.
Tradition has it that rice noodles first arrived in Taiwan via Fujian in mainland China. Today, Hsinchu rice noodles and Fengkeng rice noodles are the two best known versions of this popular staple. Hsinchu offers an ideal climate for making rice noodles, which require plenty of sunshine and wind for air drying. The resulting noodles have a springiness that resist mushiness when boiled. The rice noodle industry in Changhua County's Fengkeng Village has roots tracing back over a century. Fengkeng natives have also brought their rice noodle making skills to nearby Puli, helping the township to rise as another well-known spot for rice noodles.
The biggest difference between the rice noodles of Hsinchu and Fengkeng comes from the final manufacture steps. The Hsinchu noodles are steam boiled and then air dried to retain more of the original rice taste. The Fengkeng noodles, by comparison, are water boiled before air drying to add to their chewiness. Each version has a unique appeal and mouth-watering taste.
Mochi (sticky rice cake) was called "doushu" (bean rice cake) in early Taiwanese society but later became better known as "mochi" under the influence of the Japanese dessert "wagashi" during the Japanese colonial period. This treat is one of the representative delicacies of Taiwan's aboriginal and Hakka cultures. The Amis "dulun" is a chewy, corn-based version of this treat made without filling.
Hakka mochi has come into the spotlight in recent years in large part due to Tseng's Mochi in Hualien. Mr. Tseng moved from western Taiwan to Hualien, where he opened a shop selling traditional Hakka style mochi. Tseng's Mochi is made the traditional way, by hand-grinding the glutinous rice, pressing it dry, and then repeatedly kneading the dough into a dense soft texture that is chewy but not sticky. The fillings have a solid and rich taste that has made the cakes a local favorite and Hualien specialty.
Lei-cha (ground tea)
Lei-cha (ground tea) is a traditional tea-based Hakka beverage made with grains, dried fruit, and legumes. These materials are ground, dried into a oil-free powder mixture, and then served with hot water, creating a convenient and healthy dish. Lei-cha is still part of the diet in Hakka communities today and is often served for dinner with a generous garnish of puffed rice and stir-fried side dishes. For most people, however, lei-cha is generally eaten as a banquet refreshment. Authentic style lei-cha can be enjoyed in Beipu Township in Hsinchu County, Nanzhuang Township in Miaoli County, and Meinong District in Kaohsiung City.
During the early Republican period, Taichung baker Wei Ching-hai improved on a traditional malt cake to create the sun cakes known today. Sun cakes ensconce a malt sugar filling in a golden pastry shell that is formed into a flat round shape approximately the size of a palm for convenient eating. The name comes from their sun-like shape.
Sun cakes are also known as "xibing" (fine cakes) due to their delicate texture and popularity as a dessert among the better heeled. They are also known as "paobing" (soaked cakes) due to the common practice of dipping them in hot soymilk to release their malty taste and soften the texture for easier consumption by seniors and children with baby teeth. Taichung is the cradle of sun cakes and home to several old-time bakeries that specialize in making this treat. The cakes are a popular souvenir gift among visitors to central Taiwan.
Chiayi's Minguo Road is famous for its noodle and mantou (steamed bun) shops, but it is perhaps best known as the birthplace of square biscuits. Square biscuits are made powdered milk, butter or lard, sesame seeds, and sugar. The dough is baked into fragrant and crispy biscuits and cut into their namesake square shapes.
Brown sugar cake
Brown sugar cake evolved from a type of steamed sponge cake presented as an ancestral offering. The brown sugar version is believed to have been brought to Penghu by early immigrants from Okinawa, an island well known for its brown sugar. The brown sugar cake famous in Penghu today was first produced by a Ryukyu baker surnamed Maruhachi.
While brown sugar cake was originally used strictly as an offering, local bakeries now make this treat to meet growing tourist demand. Made with new techniques, the cakes today are softer and less sugary than their predecessors. They are also beautifully packaged, making them a popular souvenir gift in Penghu.