Day 5 in Taiwan

We met another one of our suppliers today. They kindly offered to pick us up from our hotel, so we went to meet them down in the hotel lobby at 10:00am. We are greeted by Mr Chang, the company director and his colleague Ryan, who tell us that they will be taking us to visit the actual tapioca factory where the pearls are made. This is exactly the the sort of thing we wanted to do whilst we were visiting, as it will give us insight into the whole process of how one of the most important components of BBT are made.

The tapioca manufacturer is about a half hour drive away from our hotel, in the more rural areas of Taichung. The scenery around these parts is much greener, we even saw a paddy field or two on the way here. 

Tapioca Certification
Upon entry, we see the manufacturer certification - ISO22000 (Food Safety)

Inside the  factory we are taken upstairs to the office, where we are introduced to the Director, Mr T. As soon as you walk into the building there is a sweet caramel perfume in the air that fills your nose, the irresistible scent of tapioca. We then get ready to have a look at the whole process (There will be a separate Blog on our visit to the tapioca factory).

Robed and ready to go
Getting robed up to see the tapioca process

By doing this, we can be sure that our pearls are actually manufactured in Taiwan and not imported from places like China where the quality may not be as good. We hope that by visiting this company and our other suppliers and manufacturers, our customers can have confidence that what they purchase from Bubblelicious Tea are quality goods.

Tapioca Powder
Start of process - getting the tapioca starch ready 
Tapioca Factory
Watching the workers
Mixed Tapioca Sizes
Raw pearls - can you see how all the sizes are completely different with big and small pearls? 

 

Setting the size
This machine helps set the sizes correctly to 8.5mm
All one size
Pearls are all now 1 size

The tapioca factory is a real eye opener. Although there are other suppliers out there, not many of them will  have had the opportunity to come and see first hand how the products they sell are actually made.

Coloured Tapioca
Coloured Tapioca - are you interested?

After the visit Mr Chang and Ryan take us to have lunch at the Evergreen Hotel, which is on the way back to their office. There is a large restaurant inside serving a buffet with a wide variety of dishes to choose from, including many Taiwanese dishes.

Evergreen Buffet
First plate from the buffet :)
Yum!
Lamb..fish balls...pasta...duck...yummy!

When we can eat no more, we go to Mr Chang's office. All of the suppliers and manufacturers that we have met with have a sort of experimenting room with all necessary equipment, where they can test out their products.

Being here is a bit like Charlie and the chocolate factory, the only thing we need to complete the scene is an Oompa-loompa! We are introduced to many new products, some we are already familiar with like mini mochis (which can be used to put in desserts or even drinks!), and others like flavoured milk foam, which can be floated on top of drinks like lattes, teas, any beverage really.

Mango Mochi
Mini Mochi - are you interested?
015
Flavoured Foam - interested? Let us know!
Green Tea, Vanilla, Original flavoured foams
Perfect for lattes, cappuccinos and foam topped drinks

There are jellies, syrups and teas galore! We sample everything, after all, it's our job! It only makes us more determined to make BBT more mainstream in the UK and Europe. While we were here we also learnt how to brew tea properly. Its a common misconception that you just dump a load of leaves in a pot and leave to brew. Different tea leaves need to be brewed at different temperatures, for different amounts of time. Also, after brewing, you have to throw the leaves out, don't leave them in the pot, as the tea will become too bitter to drink. There will be a separate blog for this tea brewing section as well as on the tapioca.

Oolong, Jasmine, Assam Teas
Timing the tea for perfect temperatures
Making tea
Fresh Tea Leaves

Looking at the table when we had finished it looks like the lab of some mad beverage scientist, cups upon cups of tea, all different, and beakers mixed with all colours of the rainbow. The team sit there discussing the products and actually feeling very full! We have tried so many teas and different products today we lost count! This is hard work y'know!

Sample Table
Several tests of foam, mochis, tapioca, milk tea, syrups, tea
Testing Table
Testing Table

Again we have been bowled over by how warm and welcome we feel, Mr Chang, Ryan and GG have been so good to us, we are honoured to have met them. The afternoon quickly draws to a close and we all leave the office. Mr Chang drives us back to the hotel, but Ryan will be coming by to the hotel a little later to take us out to Feng Chia night market. Sadly Mr Chang won't be able to join us, so we say our goodbyes when he drops us off.

Ryan gets to the hotel about an hour later accompanied by her younger sister Kay. We will also be meeting GG at Feng Chia. It's a nice little group, we are all more or less the same age, so tonight we will get the chance to see what young people like to get up to here in Taichung.

 

Feng Chia
We get out the taxi to see a street full of bright lights and bustling market activity
Busy busy busy
There are people and cars and motors EVERYWHERE!

When we get to Feng Chia night market its like Yi Zhong Chia only bigger! There are a lot more young people here, Ryan informs us that this is because the university it situated nearby. There is a lot more traffic here too, cars, taxis, mopeds, oh, and people too! Both sides of the road are full of brightly lit shops, signs are everywhere in all the colours you can think of, and looking upwards there are also billboards plastered everywhere. We turn into a side street where the girls say are a lot of street vendors. This street is very narrow with stalls and vendors on both sides. It is wall to wall people here, if you turn forwards, backwards, left or right, there is someone in front of you!

Flagship Night Market
Entrance to flagship nightmarket
Street Food
Street vendors and shops ply their goods to the busy market
024
You can literally buy anything you need here 

Some of the street vendors have quite impressive skills. There was one in particular that impressed us. A young man in a wooden hut is making tea, only this tea isn't served in a cup, its served in a bag. Yup, you read right, a little plastic bag! It was the first time we had witnessed anything like this, but it wasn't the fact that he was serving the tea in a bag that impressed us (c'mon!), it was the WAY he was doing it!

We filmed a little clip of him doing it, as we didn't think us describing it would do it justice. Take a look here: 

 

Impressed? We were! This way of making tea is also known as “Teh Tarik”  Some of us are going to practice doing this when we get back to the UK, outdoors of course, wouldn't want to ruin any carpets now would we?! If any of you guys can do it, we'd love to see! Send in your clips, and we'll put them up! And perhaps if we perfect it, we'll post up a video showing you how to!

Yummy... although looks like frog spawn
Fruit drink with seeds (not sure of name of seeded fruit =/)
Grass Jelly Drink
Grass Jelly Drink
Take-Away Drinks
Take away? Yes please!

Walking along the busy street we try yet more food! This seems to be like one epic eating and drinking adventure! Taiwan is no place to be if you are on a diet! Amongst the things we try are deep fried sweet potato balls on a stick, a drink that looks remarkably like frogs spawn (but tastes delicious!), a duck pancake and two types of fried chicken. One type is little pieces of fried chicken, tender, juicy and fragrant. Another is like a deep fried kiev, only with melted cheese instead of garlic butter.

Ice Cream
Incredibly tall ice creams with numerous flavours
 
4 in 1 Drinks
Make your own choices

There is just so much to see and do down at Feng Chia! We walk past some sort of arcade and Ryan  takes us inside to check it out. The heat outside is intense, already sweltering, with street vendors on both sides giving out more heat we are grateful for the cool air conditioning. The arcade is mainly composed of those little grab machines, where you stick your money in and control the claw to try and pick up a prize. It is actually really addictive, probably even more so because the prizes are so cute!

Must....win....prize
Spending a small fortune 

There are two floors to the arcade and upstairs is mainly basketball machines, where you get a load of basket balls and try to shoot as many hoops as you can. Again, very addictive, you could spend all night in here! Some of them were really good , they made just about every hoop, and in quick succession. Eat your heart out Michael Jordan! We stayed to admire their skills for a while and enjoyed the air con!

Chilling out
Shooting the hoops

 

Prizes
Real life creatures that we thought were fake
 
Crab Prize
This is an actual real life crab as a prize

Having another early morning the next day we had to call it a night. Before we do though there is space for some dessert. The girls take us to a little stall with tables and chairs all set out outside. They serve a cold dessert here, consisting mainly of shaved ice, fresh fruit, sweet beans (green and red), syrups, tapioca balls, starch noodles and preserved mango. We order two to share.

Mango Shaved Ice
We actually crave this - milky shaved ice with mango - so good!!!! *drool*
Shaved Ice with 5 toppings!!
Shaved ice with syrup topping with mango, red bean, tapioca noodles.

It was just what we needed to cool down, and absolutely yummy. We sit there in the evening heat with our spoons, observing the people around us and the hustle and bustle.

We cannot believe we have already been here for 5 days. It seems to have flown past, and we've been so busy, we've hardly slept! But its another long day tomorrow, so its goodnight from us!

 


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Bubblelicious Tea

Established in July 2010, the Bubblelicious Tea team have built our reputation up in the UK and Europe as having superb quality products with a customer service reputation to match. Now with more clients springing up internationally, we strive to ensure we always keep one step ahead of the trend. Our research and product sourcing has already taken us all around the world from the USA and Canada to Hong Kong and Japan that you can read about in our personalised blog - come and join us on our bubble tea adventure!

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