As Taiwan is a subtropical island with the south part in the tropics, it cannot hurt to drink a lot, especially during summertime. Drink vending machines can be found virtually everywhere and are filled with all kinds of juices, tea and coffee drinks, soy milk and mineral water.


Taiwan's legal age to consume alcohol is 18 years of age. Minors caught drinking can face fines ranging from $10000 to $50000. Traditional alcoholic drinks in Taiwan are very strong. Kaoliang 高粱酒 is the most famous alcoholic drink. A distilled grain liquor, it is extremely strong, usually 140 proof or more, and often drunk straight.

Taiwan also produces many types of Shaoxing 紹興酒, rice wine, which are considered by many as being some of the best in the world.

Taiwanese people enjoy beer on ice. A wide variety of imported beers are available, but the standard is Taiwan Beer 台灣啤酒, produced by a former government monopoly. It is brewed with fragrant penglai rice in addition to barley giving it a distinctive flavor. The beer is served cold and recognized as an especially suitable complement to Taiwanese and Japanese cuisine, especially seafood dishes such as sushi and sashimi.Taiwan Beer has won international awards, including the International Monde Selection in 1977 and the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2002.

Beer on tap is uncommon in Taiwan, and most places serve beer in bottles. For a special and rare treat, ask for the Taiwan Draft Beer 台灣生啤酒, which comes in a plain green bottle. This has a 2-week expiration, so it can only be found at the breweries there are a few scattered around Taiwan or at select stores and restaurants in the vicinity.

tea and coffee

Taiwan's specialty teas are High Mountain Oolong 高山烏龍, Gao-shan wulong - a fragrant, light tea, and Tie Guan-yin 鐵觀音 - a dark, rich brew. Enjoying this tea, served in the traditional way using a very small teapot and tiny cups, is an experience you should not miss. This way of taking tea is called lao ren cha 老人茶 - 'old people's tea', and the name is derived from the fact that only the elderly traditionally had the luxury of time to relax and enjoy tea in this way. Check the small print when visiting a traditional tea house though: in addition to the tea itself, you may be charged a cover 茶水費, literally "tea-water fee" for the elaborate process of preparing it as well as for any nibbles served on the side.

One should also try Lei cha 擂茶; léi chá a tasty and nourishing Hakka Chinese tea-based beverage consisting of a mix ground tea leaves and grain. Some stores specialize in this product and allows one to grind their own lei cha.

Pearl milk tea 珍珠奶茶 zhēnzhū nǎichá, aka "bubble tea" or "boba tea", is milky tea with chewy balls of tapioca added, drunk through an over-sized straw. Invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s and a huge Asia-wide craze in the 1990s, it's not quite as popular as it once was but can still be found at nearly every coffee/tea shop. Look for a shop where it is freshly made.

The cafe culture has hit Taiwan in a big way, and in addition to an abundance of privately owned cafes, all the major chains, such as Starbucks, have a multitude of branches throughout major towns and cities.


As a general rule, with the exception of Kaohsiung, tap water in Taiwan is safe for drinking after boiling. Any water or ice you are served in restaurants will already have been processed. Water fountains in Taiwan always incorporate filters, and they can be found in practically every lodge or hotel as well as for example larger museums and Taipei MRT stations. You can refill and reuse your bottles at these fountains as well. If you can't find one, then you should buy bottled water.

Note that in Kaohsiung, most people do not drink the tap water, even after filtering or boiling, since the water contains trace amounts of arsenic that is detrimental to health. Whether the trace amounts are dangerous or not is debatable, especially if you're just passing through, but the locals obtain potable water using pumps that look like gasoline pumps that are strewn throughout the residential areas. For tourists, most hotels would provide 2 bottles of mineral water in each room and you should use that as your drinking water. If that is not enough, there are many 24 hours convenience stores around so you can get additional bottled water from there.

In most other places in Taiwan it is advised to not drink tap water. In fact, warnings about this can be found in most hotels, particularly the international tourist hotels. Although some Taiwanese do so, even the majority of them prefer to drink boiled water. In some parts of the country Yunlin County (雲林縣, etc.) the water is often filtered to remove sediment and minerals from the ground water prior to boiling.

Another reason for drinking previously boiled or bottled water in Taiwan is that Taiwan is a seismic active zone. Because of the large number of earthquakes, the water delivery system pipes are easily damaged allowing contaminants to enter the water prior to it reaching the tap. Therefore drinking previously boiled or bottled water is probably a wise choice.

soft drinks

Taiwan is a great place for fruit drinks. Small fruit-juice bars make them fresh on the spot and are experts at creating fruit-juice cocktails non-alcoholic, of course. zong-he - mixed - is usually a sweet and sour combination and mu-gwa niou-nai 木瓜牛奶 is iced papaya milk. If you don't want ice though it is safe in Taiwan, even at road side vendors say, chu bing 去冰 and no sugar - wu tang 無糖.

Soy milk, or doujiang 豆漿, is a great treat. Try it hot or cold. Savoury soy milk is a traditional Taiwanese breakfast dish. It is somewhat of an acquired taste as vinegar is added to curdle the milk. Both sweet and savory soy milk are often ordered with you-tiao 油條, or deep fried dough crullers.

There are a lot of pseudo health drinks in Taiwanese supermarkets and convenience stores. Look out for asparagus juice and lavender milk tea for example.