Tuesday, February 05, 2008

coffee/tea: i strongly recommend 50 LAN

50 LAN
various locations citywide

website: 50lan.com.tw Chinese only

kid friendliness: kids will love slurping boba from the oversized colorful straws, but parents should decide if the sugar and tea is okay for their kids.


Visit reviewed: 12/8/2007

Boba Milk Tea was a crazy phenomenon in LA about five years ago, not too unlike the Pinkberry craze that is going on now. Different chains or mom and pop shops across the street from each other. Going to get a boba every other day. At least fruit topped fro yo is a lot better for your waistline than a cup of creamer or condensed milk with a splash of tea and half cup of starchy balls.

But it's totally died down in the states. And there's no way I could repeat drinking it every other day like when I had 5 (count them! but there are now only 2 standing) milk tea shops in a two block radius on Sawtelle to choose from.

Milk tea in Taipei is still alive and kicking. And a lot cheaper. At NT$30+ a cup, it's a lot more affordable than the US$2-3 prices- though you can still find those prices (supposedly for higher quality tea and boba) at places like the fancier Chun Tsui Tang (aka Spring Water House).

My favorite milk tea place of the moment is 50 Lan or 50嵐. It's a chain, so you can spot the bright yellow and blue signs on many busy streets.

Surprisingly, there is usually a line, maybe because each drink is made to order and sometimes people are ordering bagfulls for their office.

What I like is that you can adjust the temperature (hot or cold), sweetness (90 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent sugar), and even the amount of boba. I like that the bobas are slightly smaller and always the right chewiness. Personally, I like my milk tea cold and 75 percent sweet. Fifty percent tastes too watered down for me.

The cup is complete with a slogan that almost makes sense, especially if you've been living with Taiwan English long enough: "The Tea of Cool. Craving. Content."

Their extensive menu is completely in Chinese, so stick to "boba nai tsa" or boba milk tea, or point to something that looks good that someone before you has ordered. I have to work on figuring out their other drinks since I do like the passionfruit tea or lemon jelly variety too.


abstractpoet said...

Hey, welcome back! I like this chain, too--there's one right by my work that I always hit up during my lunch break.

Did you know that they have two sizes of balls, the bigger "boba" and the smaller "zenzu" that don't even require a bigger straw? My personal faves are the the "zenzu qin cha", which is very refreshing (almost healthy-tasting), and the pudding milk tea.

Anonymous said...

I have grown to like ComeBuy because they have so many unique selections and often a monthly new tea. The one in Keelung's train station is quite remarkable. Thanks for updating. I really love to drool over your pictures.

joanh said...

abstractpoet: thanks!! thanks also for clarifying.. i guess since i order in chinese, i forget that there's a difference between "zenzu" and "boba".. yes, i like the smaller kind better!

anonymous: hmm, haven't heard of ComeBuy. thanks for visiting and hope you comment again!

Carly In Taiwan said...

this is my favorite store too!!! the workers at the one on my street all know my name and personal history haha. i agree with the person who said "come buy" also because they too have very good naicha, especially the hokkaido kind, which has a coconut flavor ^^

Anonymous said...

I love this place. Have tried many places (not ComeBuy yet) and always go to 50 Lan. When I first got to Taipei I thought they were called "JO". I thought the "5" looked like a "J". I prefer the bigger boba. I go maybe twice a week to get my fix.

I will be so sad when I leave Taipei and cannot get 50 Lan anymore!!

Anonymous said...

I was last in Taiwan a couple months ago and remember seeing 50 Lan everywhere. My cousins said they preferred it over those small mom-pop drink stands.

Your post mentioned Sawtelle. I live a couple blocks from there (kinda) and the only boba places I can think of that are there are Lollicup and Volcano Tea House. They should put a 50 Lan there.

joanh said...

carly in taiwan: that's awesome they all recognize you and know what you want.. that's the best.

benny: hahaa. I could totally see what you were saying after you mentioned it.. the 5 as a "j"

amy: i think what's so great is that it's consistent yet totally price-comparable to the mom and pop places.. as for sawtelle, there used to be Relaxstation (the OG on Sawtelle), Upper House and another one where Pinkberry now is.. they all sort of died off the past few years with too much saturation.

Anonymous said...

I really like 50 lan also. My wife and I went back and noticed a lot of the boba places were upgrading their quality in order to compete. The teas they use are very good quality and the service people aren't the usual surly types which one comes to expect but this was a nice change.
I switched from the Jasmine to oolong. A good change for people who want tea but want something different.

Anonymous said...

mmm... 50 is delicious! The little zhenzhu are the best I've had anywhere. I always opted for the green tea, not too sweet.

I enjoyed Quickly (kuai-ke-li) too. I hear they were in CA for a while?

Steve said...

I love that there's a 50 Lan only a few doors down from my apartment in Taoyuan. I'm addicted to the pu tao you lu cha (grapefruit green tea), but I also like the occasional boba tea. The teen/20-something staff are always very friendly to me, despite my attempts at mangling Chinese ^_^.

Heh, I thought the place was called "SO" when I first got here. They gotta fix that 5.

joanh said...

jeffrey c: thanks for commenting! oolong sounds great

grover: yeah.. there are still some Quickly and Lollicups in California

steve: grapefruit green tea sounds so good. yeah at first I thought it was the 5 was a J.. I guess their bright blue and yellow sign is bright enough to bring the crowds. thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

i love the ice cream red tea + boba. it's love. oh and bubble tea originated in taiwan so the craze has been going on since forever. it wasn't a cali thing. and taiwan's the one that's got like, 5 bubble tea shops on one street. i love it

Hungry in Iowa said...

I am completely addicted to 50嵐. The problem is, I can't get any good milk tea back in the states! I guess living in midwest doesn't help. I make my own pearl milk tea, but it's not nearly as good =(

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE 50 Lan.