Milk tea, fruit tea, fresh tea, mojitos, and smoothies are among the many options of refreshing drinks to choose from at Taipei Cafe. With over 40 options of tea to choose from, it was definitely overwhelming to decide what to try. Luckily, our tea sommelier was patient, friendly, and willing to indulge this first-timer with some suggestions and a quick lesson in the different types of tea.

My friend and I hesitantly walked up to the counter, unsure where to even begin. The board was a helpful starting point, listing all of the various options with price points for each. We learned the milk tea options are creamier in texture and are available in flavors like honey, chocolate, matcha, peach, ginger, and hazelnut, so there is definitely an option for chocolate and fruit lovers alike. The fresh teas come in options like winter melon, ceylon black, jasmine, oolong, rose, and berries and lime. Fruit teas range from passion fruit, blueberry, mango, lychee, pineapple, strawberry, cranberry, and peach. Many options are available iced or hot.

After asking a lot of questions, I settled on the lychee yoghurt CP from the fruit tea menu at $4.25 for a regular size. Thinking I was finished with my options and happy with my choice, I learned that you can also customize your drink further. There are many toppings you can add (in addition to what already comes in your drink) for an additional $0.50 (tapioca pearls, grass jelly, pudding, red bean, coconut jelly, aiyu jelly). My tea ended up with coconut jelly and tapioca pearls. You can customize sweetness as well asking for 0% (no sugar) all the way to 120% (more sugar). I went with 50% (half sugar), as I’m not a big fan of super sugary drinks. You can also customize ice. I decided on less ice to maximize my drink intake. My friend first ordered the peach flavored milk tea. Unfortunately, they were out of peach, but the helpful barista suggested the Okinawa milk tea with pearl at $4.75 for a regular. She chose regular ice and sweetness.

It took about 5 minutes for our teas to come out. When we received our teas, curiously, they had plastic wrap on the top which we used the large straws to puncture (later I found out they hand mix in all the ingredients then mix with a machine which creates an air-tight plastic seal you puncture with your straw). My friend’s tea tasted almost like cereal milk, both creamy and sweet with a hint of brown sugar. My tea, the lychee yoghurt CP,  looked very similar to a light lemonade, both in consistency and color. The pearls were visible at the bottom as well as the coconut jelly. It had almost a floral aroma with a hint of the lychee.

We enjoyed the atmosphere, as the cafe had a modern feel. There is an open area in the lobby with seating (benches with pillows and couches), as well as room in the back with tables and chairs and another room that is more sequestered that would be a great area for small groups to meet.

I enjoyed trying both teas and the ambiance and decided to come back later in the week and try a few more drinks including the mojito. This time I ordered the blueberry mojito at $4.50 for a regular and the winter melon tea at $3 for a regular size. I chose regular ice for the mojito and regular sweetness and ice for the winter melon tea.

The mojito was amazing. The chopped mint was fresh, and I thought the blueberry paired well with it. The drink was fizzy and refreshing. (Note: It is non-alcoholic.) The winter melon tea was not what I expected. When you think of melon, you think of a lighter fruit. This tea was sweeter, with hints of squash or other fall flavors.

Unfortunately, Taipei is not serving food items until late August. The signature egg waffle with spam and the chocolate egg waffle are on my list to try, as well as the smoothie and shaved ice. I will definitely come back to try some of their other tea and mojito options as well the next time I need a quiet spot to get some work done or to catch up with a friend. 

Taipei Cafe
512 E Green St
Champaign
Summer Hours until August 24th
1 to 9 p.m. daily

Photos by Amber Laquet