The town of Taichung is famous in Taiwan for its impressive range of teahouses. Though the idea of a 'teahouse' tends to conjure images of paper lanterns, imperial interiors, and palm-sized cups, in Taichung, teahouses can be as modern or as traditional as you'd like. This is, after all, the city that gave the world bubble milk tea and pearl milk tea- thereby dropping Taiwan's median tea drinking age by at least twenty years. On a weekend visit to Taichung, we checked this out for ourselves at Teaworks, an attractively modern cafe.
Though the building was starkly modern, with angular columns lifting the glass-box interior above the earth, it contained thoughtful nods to classical Asian style. Frangipani trees blossomed around the exterior, stone Buddhas were tucked into niches in the wall, and plump red and gold koi fish swirled below the building's stilt-supported frame.
We took a table outside, where cleverly placed misters provided respite from the sultry afternoon heat. The kitchen prepared a number of small snacks, but the focus was of course on the tea. The menu offered an abundant range of brewed beverages, and had a list of milk teas that spilled from one page onto the next. After deliberating over milk teas flavored with taro and red bean, I selected a black sesame milk tea. It arrived on the table in a tall glass dripping in condensation, the creamy liquid capped in ground black sesame seeds.