This was something new that we discovered right at the end of our time in Taiwan. We visited Meinong to pick up some paper umbrellas. The white sugar is made in a machine like the one used to make cotton candy. It’s spun around a centre of either peanut or black sesame and is actually a little stringy – it’s hard to take a single bite and not have the whole thing kind of pull apart. They’re really, really good and it’s too bad they’re only available in this tiny little town.
After we bought our umbrellas and ate our candy, we went to a tea house that specialized in a certain kind of tea made here. They even gave you the chance to make it yourself. You start with a mortar containing peanuts, sesame seeds, puffed rice, and other grains, and you try to grind it into dust with a pestle. This takes a long time, though there is a technique to help make it seem like less.
When you’re about 2/3 of the way there, they come over and add pulverized green tea and some sweet, tart berries, which I’ve seen before but don’t know the name of, and you continue crushing and mixing until everything’s all together. Then you can take some mix in your cup and add some hot water and ta-da! Delicious mountain green tea. It really is tasty, and I should know – I had about 15 cups of the stuff, soldiering on to finish it after the women were done. It was awesome.
Lastly, we enjoyed some local handmade noodles. Much better than store-bought, but I never found out what made these special. Either way, they were a great way to top off a gourmet, aesthecially-pleasing day in the mountains.