Text: Dana Ter; Photos: Vision
TenRen’s Tea opened its first tea shop in Kaohsiung in 1953, and it has since grown into an internationally recognized brand with over 200 branches worldwide. The philosophy is simple: to serve the highest-quality tea sourced from the best tea plantations around Taiwan, a tea that is natural and healthful and that represents human warmth.
These days, TenRen’s Tea is well known around the world not only for its traditional teas such as Oolong or green tea but also for its different types of bubble tea. In addition, TenRen’s Tea operates the popular cha FOR TEA restaurants which serve healthful Taiwanese dumplings and noodle soups, as well as pastries and desserts.
In Taiwan itself, over 5,000 cups of “to-go” drinks, including 913 King’s Oolong Tea + fresh-milk tea, are sold daily in TenRen’s Tea shops and cha FOR TEA restaurants. Every customer is greeted with a free cup of 913 King’s Oolong Tea, a tea that is both fragrant and invigorating, made with the best tea leaves from central Taiwan’s high-mountain tea plantations. The tea bags also contain ginseng powder, which complements the tea perfectly and creates a sweet and smooth flavor. The tea is steeped for 3~5 minutes and it can be brewed up to three times.
In cha FOR TEA, all dishes are cooked with tea or tea is used as the primary ingredient. This is what distinguishes TenRen’s Tea from other restaurants serving Taiwanese food. Different types of tea are paired with different food. For instance, white meat is paired with green tea, a light beverage, while the stronger and more pungent Pu’erh is paired with beef or heavier foods. Because they are cooked with tea, cha FOR TEA dishes are not just incredibly flavorful but also healthful and nourishing. Therefore, customers keep coming back!
One bestseller is the Taro Green Milk Tea which is made from green tea, fresh milk, and fresh taro. The taro is cooked fresh every day in the restaurant, then chopped into small pieces and added to the drink. This drink is light and refreshing, combining the elegance of green tea and the smoothness of milk.
Hot Taro Green Milk Tea (left); Iced Taro Green Milk Tea with QQ (right)
Of course, no visit to Taiwan is complete without a taste of xiao long bao or steamed pork dumplings. TenRen’s Tea’s xiao long bao is unique because it is cooked with Oriental Beauty tea, which gives the soup inside the thin skin a light and gentle taste of tea with a discernable honey flavor.
Another must-try is the Green Tea Shrimp Shu-Mai which is cooked with Longjing green tea. Containing a generous filling, firm yet succulent, the dumplings are topped with perfectly chewy whole shrimp. Both options are incredibly refreshing and unlike traditional dumplings which tend to be heavier and greasier.
If you’re in the mood to try something completely different, order the Fresh Tea Leaf Tempura. This appetizer blurs the line between food and drink, showing that tea leaves are not only edible but also very delicious. Tea leaves are fried and encased in a tempura shell to achieve a crunchy texture that is reminiscent of traditional fried Taiwanese snacks. What separates this tempura from usual tempura is that flavor is added to the batter to complement the light flavor of the tea leaves without overpowering it. For a stronger taste you can dip the tempura in a very delectable green-tea pepper
Before you leave, don’t forget to pick up a TenRen’s Tea gift box. Small and easy to pack, these gift boxes are perfect as a souvenir or as a present for family and friends back home. Choose from eight different types of tea to mix and match. All tea bags contain whole tea leaves. Customized gift boxes include ten sachets of tea leaves with three different tea flavors. The tea leaves are sourced from the best tea plantations around Taiwan, including Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, a sweet and mellow tea from Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan that’s vivid red in appearance, and Alishan Oolong Tea, an incredibly earthy and aromatic high mountain oolong tea. 913 King’s Oolong Tea is sold in sachets and as 300g and 150g boxes.
TenRen’s Tea offers a wide range of gift box choices
For those who prefer to drink their tea chilled, TenRen’s Tea also offers cold brew tea options, including a cold brew version of 913 and jasmine green tea, which has a more traditional flavor. These are sold in narrower sachets with smaller tea leaves to make it easier to place in water bottles and flasks.
No time to sit down for lunch or afternoon tea? Not a problem. Simply stop by the takeout counter outside cha FOR TEA’s Xinyi Road store to pick up a cup of tea to-go!