Shaved Ice and Bubble Tea: How To Beat The Heat In Asia

Shaved Ice and Bubble Tea: How To Beat The Heat In Asia

It’s 98 degrees and humid in Taipei, and you’ve just devoured a steaming bowl of spicy beef noodles. The shade of the archway-covered city sidewalks provides some respite from the heat, but every time you cross the street and step out into the sun, you feel your forehead being seared like you’re an ant under a magnifying glass being held by a 3rd grade bully. The scene seems desperate, but around nearly every corner there appears a beacon of hope in the form of a bubble tea food stand. With extra pep in your step, you make your way to the counter and place your order. When it comes, you are welcomed into a blissful state of icy cold, sweet sweet euphoria. It lasts precisely as long as there is tea in your hermetically sealed plastic takeaway cup.


This scene is not exclusive to Taipei, and we found fabulous, if not utterly ubiquitous, bubble tea, iced tea, iced coffee, shaved ice and ice cream purveyors in every country we visited. Join us today on a tour of some of the nicest, iciest highlights from our blazing hot 2015 summer trip around Asia!

The top bubble tea picture we mentioned last week in our post about Hong Kong’s Shim Shui Po neighborhood, and the one you can see Brandon clearly enjoying is from Golden 2007 in Taipei.


We really loved Taipei’s version of shaved ice as well, especially of the mango variety. For those who are unfamiliar, shaved ice is essentially a large mound of ice shavings that can resemble snow.  The consistency is definitely softer than the snow cones many are familiar with.  A variety of sweet toppings, are then added.  There is a really famous shaved ice place called Ice Monster near Sun Yat Sen Memorial, and another famous place on Yong Kang Street called King Smoothie, where we ate the above mango ice topped with panna cotta.


Our absolute top shaved ice in all of Asia (sorry Korea, you too have truly great places!) was found at a smaller spot called Rendezvous Fruit Ice Room near Lung Shan Temple. The ice was fluffy, the mango sweet, and it was topped simply with mango juice and sweetened condensed milk. Heavenly! Pictured below, this was without a doubt the gold standard, the most cherished cold refreshment to beat for the rest of our trip. Here is a link to the yelp page if you want to find it in Taipei.


Taipei was also the point of discovery for cream iced tea lattes like this green tea cream latte from LatTea near Shilin. I was pleasantly surprised by how complimentary the cold and sweetened green tea blended with the unsweetened, borderline sour tasting thick cream at the top.


I was happy to realize that this is a style of iced tea that is widely available all over Asia, as the Gong Cha Tea international chain offers iced cream lattes in many countries, including the U.S.! We will be visiting the location near Manhattan’s Herald Square before the summer is over. The particular Gong Cha above was enjoyed in the Gangnam area of Seoul, Korea.

South Korea definitely deserves a major shout out for its zealousness for shaved ice, or what Koreans refer to as “bingsu.” Dessert bars are wildly popular in Seoul and Busan, and we had some awesome time exploring all kinds of shaved ice, sometimes up to twice a day in Korea, because bingsu was available nearly everywhere we went!


At a cafe near Meyongdong in Seoul, we tried injeolmi toast with our nightly shaved ice (below), which was pleasantly gooey and crunchy at the same time!

That’s all for tonight, but keep following Cooler Kitchen’s weekly posts documenting our food journey through Asia! Later this summer, we’ll share all about our exploration of green tea iced refreshments in Japan, and the mind blowing artistry of French Boulangerie-style bread and pastry shops in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan!

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