One of the most popular foods traditionally paired with teas in Taiwan is, drum roll please, fruits & nuts. So ordinary, you may say. Yet, quite the contrary, it's actually extra-ordinary. The Taiwanese fruits & nuts are no ordinary fruits & nuts you maybe familiar with and definitely puts your local Trader Joe's to shame. There is no right answer as to which teas to pair with fruits & nuts. Given the prevalence of tea as well as fruit & nuts consumed in Taiwan, all combinations exist with a casualness I love (green tea with mango? oolong with pumpkin seeds? apricot tea with dried apricot? sure!) and it's all just a matter of preference. If you get to, I encourage you to experiment and taste how the fruits and nuts bring out the complex notes in the varietals of tea!
Known as "The Fruit Kingdom," Taiwan is located in the subtropical zone and ideal for growing various varieties of tropical fruits. Pictured above are beautiful dragon fruits that, when the bright pink/red exterior is removed, reveal a black/white polka dot interior with tastes of fresh summer. Pineapples, pictured below, is the unofficial Taiwanese national fruit, of which the famous Taiwanese pineapple cakes are made with. The Taiwanese pineapples taste unusually sweet and juicy, with some "milk pineapple" variety containing pulp that's pearly white.
The list of exotic fruit available in Taiwan is endless, including guava (pictured below), wax apples, star fruit, Buddha's head, papayas, durians, loquats, longans, jujubes, lychees, and apple pears. Essentially, even if you are lucky enough to have some of these fruits in your hometown, the Taiwanese version may taste especially scrumptious because of its sweetness and juiciness.
These amazing plentiful fruits are often made into dried fruit (sometimes even fermented/pickled) that is commonly enjoyed as a snack. A walk along the traditional alleyways along DiHua street (see pictures below) in Taipei, capital of Taiwan, gives you a flavor for the variety, quantity, and just general overwhelming popularity of dried fruit and nuts. Available packaged or in bulk, nuts are often flavored with different condiments (e.g. five spices, soy sauce, etc.) for unique tastes as well.
It's safe to say that the Taiwanese enjoy snacking, and tea is the perfect accompaniment for these healthy snacks.