Last updated on July 19, 2018
Are you heading to Taiwan soon? Great if you are, as spring is one of the best seasons to visit Taiwan. Colorful flowers are in full bloom and climate is neither too cold nor too hot. I’ve recently revisited Taiwan and have prepared Part 2 of Things to buy in Taiwan which I would love to share with you.
For better continuity, you may want to catch up with Part 1 of the series before reading further.
- Must-read: Things to buy in Taiwan (Part 1)
Things to Buy in Taiwan (Part 2)
1. Beauty Products
Integrate Mineral Loose Powder
After finding lots of treasures in the random purchase of Integrate products during an earlier solo Taiwan trip, I didn’t hesitate to get more of her products when I revisited Taiwan. Below are some of the good ones which I am adding to my Taiwan Must-Buy List.
Integrate Mineral Loose Powder was one of them. Although I’ve yet to write a formal review, this product is worth buying. Similar to the powder foundation which I’ve given a high review, Integrate Mineral Loose Powder produces the same effect – dewy, not flat, not overly-matt and pretty good coverage. It dispenses well depositing the right amount of powder to the puff when you give the container an upward shake.
Integrate Compact Blusher
During time of purchase, Integrate Mineral Loose Powder came bundled with a free compact blusher. Both items for only NT357. The compact blusher is my favorite blush at the moment. So get it if you see it on sale!
Integrate Mineral Liquid Foundation
I’d purchased Integrate Mineral Liquid Foundation during my 2014 trip to Japan and loved it so much I bought another two bottles this time round. If you like natural, sheer and dewy coverage, you will love this foundation. It’s also safe on my pimple-prone skin. This is one of the rare products that went into my Super Holy Grails List. Price: NT323.
Media BB Cream
At this moment, Media BB Cream is my favorite BB cream among the many sitting on my vanity. It gives sheer coverage, spreads easily and has a natural finish. It is a balanced formulation sitting in the middle spectrum between dewy and matt. Best of all, it doesn’t cause or worsen blemishes. Price: NT281
Similar to Japan, Taiwan is a great place to buy sun screen products as it is often much cheaper. For instance, Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel sells for only NT218 which is almost half the price of those retailing in Singapore (S$18.90).
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2. Taiwan Tea
You’ve seen the tea I bought in my earlier trip to Taiwan. This time (with help from my readers), I managed to find a WIDE selection of tea in Carrefour Taipei. Look at this!
Out of all these, I shortlisted two:
250g of Powdered Green Tea for just NT148 (S$6.50). I hope you guys know how much 250g of tea is. =) It’s a lot, and it’s cheap! However, I do prefer those powdered green tea that I bought in Japan as they are finer in texture and greater in taste. But this will do too – serve me till I visit Japan again, right? =)
And how can I forget these everyday Oolong Tea from Ten Ren. A box of 100 teabags for NT105. This should last me for a while.
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I also made a trip to a wholesale tea house – Lin Hua Tai (林華泰茶行) – to get higher-quality tea. Their Oolong tea ranged from NT80 to NT4000 per catty (600g). I chose a mid-range tea priced at NT600 per catty. Its Chinese name is loosely translated as ‘Oolong Frozen Top’ tea.
- TIPS: You need not buy a catty of each. For instance, I only bought 200g. Therefore you can see that the sealed packet was one-third filled.
It has a green brew that caught me by surprise as most Oolong I’ve tried gives off a dark brown hue. It also didn’t have the typical Oolong taste I’ve grown accustomed to. As such, I tend to reach out more to the cheaper Ten Ren Oolong teabag.
This ‘frozen top’ Oolong tasted light and fragrant and my parents like it more than I do.
The leaves came in whole. A tiny portion would bloat up in full when seeped in water and take up one-third space of the tea cup. Whole leaves are normally higher quality than tea bags, if you aren’t aware. So I guess, it’s really value for money.
One thing I have to highlight, I didn’t enjoy the buying process at Lin Hua Tai Tea Company. I felt intimidated by the musculine-looking lady who served me.
She was staring at me without smiling, asking me what I want when I myself was pretty confused by the wide variety of tea they have, placed in big metal drums. She didn’t offer to help when I asked and just pointed me to a wall-pasted card that listed the types of tea and their pricing in a grid table. She continued to stare at me while I tried to digest those Chinese Traditional Characters.
So I randomly picked one and requested to take a sniff and bought it – the whole process lasting less than 5 minutes. In this short duration, I earned 4 mosquito bites in the oldest tea shop in Taipei, which was well as you can guess…rather run-down. Not an enjoyable experience. But I have to admit the price is good, probably half the price of similar Oolong sold in Supermarkets. See map location here.
3. Mochi (from Hualien)
If you ever visit Hualien, you must get these soft, sweet and chewy Mochi (麻糬) which the locals take as deserts or snacks. They are made of glutinous rice and come with different sweet fillings such as green tea, sesame, peanuts, red bean and yam.
Not going to Hualien? Don’t worry, you can still get them in Taipei. Just make sure you taste them first before buying.
曾記麻糬 (Zheng Ji Ma Su)
I bought from two popular shops in Hualien, the first being a multi-chain store – 曾記麻糬 (pronounced as Zheng Ji Ma Su). You can see this brand every few hundred metres you walk in Hualien. It’s a big establishment and I even saw an entire building of its own along highway on my way to Taroko Gorge.
In a little outlet along Zhonghua Road, I saw two different types of mochi – one is larger and not sealed. The lady assistant told me it was handmade. I bought one Taro flavour (yam) for I think NT35. It was soft and Q (Taiwanese way of describing chewy in a good way) and not too sweet which was great!
I also bought a few packets of Tiny Mochi (小麻糬) in green tea flavour. Each pack weighing 300g (NT110) comes with 20 pieces of mochi that’s probably one-third the size of the one I just had. I was told these were made by machines.
Tiny Handmade vs Machine-Made Mochi
I can’t tell the difference which was better – the handmade or machine-made ones. But I reckon that the smaller ones would be great as gifts as they have a longer expiry of about 2-3 months.
惠比須餅舖 (Hui Bi Xu Confectionery)
The second store I bought from was recommended by my friendly Airbnb owner (Don’t forget to enjoy S$45 discount off your first Airbnb stay).
惠比須餅舖 (pronounced as Hui Bi Xu Confectionery) didn’t appear to me that they belong to a retail chain. The packaging label stated that the shop has a long history, being established in 1899 – see map location.
The great thing about the mochi here is that we could select the flavour we want and the number of mochi we needed before they sealed the packet. They charged based on weightage at NT150 per 600g. That’s about 17 pieces of standard-sized mochi.
The mochi was similarly soft and Q and not too sweet. They have a shelf life of only three weeks.
Which Brand is Better – Zheng Ji OR Hui Bi Xu
I couldn’t tell the difference which brand is better. Both were great! In fact, I love how tiny and easy it was to pop in the bite-sized mochi from 曾記 (Zheng Ji).
My parents thought otherwise and told me without hesitation 惠比須 (Hui Bi Xu) was better. They said 惠比須 offered a more homemade and traditional flavor and had more fillings, while 曾記 tasted a little artificial or “perfumy”. From pricing point of view, 惠比須 is also cheaper. So if you can only get one packet, get it from 惠比須.
4. Taiwan Instant Noodle
My Taiwan trip was mostly adventurous by nature and hence, I didn’t have a lot of time to shop. I randomly grabbed a packet of Instant Noodle (Wei Wei Duck Glass Noodle with Chinese Pickles) from Carrefour and it turned out to be so good!
I definitely haven’t tasted anything similar in Singapore. The glass noodle was the most Q (chewy in a good way) glass noodle I’ve ever tasted in my life. Seriously! I was also pleasantly surprised to find tiny pieces of duck meat included. A pack containing 4 individually wrapped servings costs NT73.
I would definitely grab more of such “Made in Taiwan” instant noodle the next time I visit Taiwan. You can explore other brands, as they may taste equally good.
5. Taiwan Snacks
To get authentic made-in-Taiwan snacks that local eat, head off to Supermarket. Be sure to check products are “Made in Taiwan”. Among the snacks I’d purchased from Carrefour in Taipei, those that tasted good are listed below:
When I came back to Singapore, I found Sheng Shiong Supermarket selling the exact same brand of pineapple cake. Those who don’t have this in their country may consider buying it.
Mom loved the spicy Beef jerky – dried and very rich and authentic beef taste.
This snack with black sesame sandwiched between dried cod fish is very unique and I haven’t seen anything like this elsewhere.
There were other snacks I’ve purchased such as sweet potato chips, mushroom chips and fish jerky.
What to Avoid Buying in Taiwan?
1. Beauty Products
Integrate Mineral CC Cream
Integrate Mineral CC Cream provided too little coverage even for someone who are into sheer makeup. It’s probably just a quarter of the normal coverage of a BB cream, and none of my redness, pimples or pores can be concealed. I hardly use it at all even after close to 6 months. Perhaps it should market itself purely as a makeup base and not a CC cream. Price: NT269
Integrate Mineral Puff Cheek Blusher
I bought this in an earlier trip. The powder was fine and should blend easily with a makeup brush. However, this blusher came with built-in puff. I didn’t like the puff application as it couldn’t achieve the same smooth blend as a cheek brush.
I also thought puff application is unhygienic as the puff cannot be aired in between application to get rid of unnecessary moisture. Lastly, it is not travel-friendly as the container isn’t compact.
2. Taiwan Snacks
Dried Beancurd in various flavors
Carrefour sold these beancurds in all types of flavors, from Garlic to Five Spices, and I thought they made a healthy calcium-packed snack. I’m a lover of Tofu, Beancurd, Tau Kwa and soy-related products. But these were awful!
None of my family members and myself liked them! Please skip.
That’s all to Part 2 of Things to Buy in Taiwan. I’ll follow up with a Part 3 on street food hits and misses (Taipei, Hualien, Luodong etc) once my Eastern Taiwan Travelogue is out. Stay tuned!