November 29, 2010

Mr. Hsu and Mrs. Smith

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I received a call on Saturday, after finishing mom's braised pig trotters for lunch at home.  I couple of friends were nearby and wanted to know if I could join them for tea.  I remember reading about smith&hsu in Taipei from a recent post by Nanamoose, and quickly went over to check it out.

I arrived to find a surprisingly large selection of tea - 47 of them numbered 1 to 69.  In addition to seeing being listed on the menu, the staff also brought over a large tray with small jars containing the teas.  You are invited to take a whiff and see which combination you prefer, before ordering a pot.  Certainly a very good idea!

I figured I could always use something to decompress, so I ordered No. 59 - Stress reliever (檸香舒壓花草茶).  This is an herbal combination with rooibos, St. John's wort, lemongrass and other leaves and pods.  Very soothing, and exactly what I needed.

My friends ordered the tea and scone set.  Nanamoose had stated in her blog that she thought this place served the best scones in the world.  That's a pretty bold statement.  I took half a scone only when it had gone cold, and I thought it was pretty good.  Then again, I'm not a scone connoisseur...  One has a choice of scones, and we had them with cranberries.  The lemon jam was very delicious.

Later we ordered the home-made cookies, which were also made with cranberries.  These were really, really good... with so much butter you can feel it on your lips after the cookies are gone.  Yum.

I went back to smith&hsu again on Monday, this time at another of their four locations.  I was in a very different mood today, and decided to order No. 30 - Lavande Sur Le Déclin (日落花草茶).  This floral combination of lavender, chamomile, orange blossom, rose petals, mint leaves...etc was perfect.

I did have another half of a scone again, this time while it was still warm.  Still pretty good, I thought.  The apricot jam was also pretty delicious.

I'm happy that we have places like smith&hsu for tea.  In an age with the ubiquitous Starbucks and other coffee chains, it's important to have alternatives where people take tea very seriously.  I think I'll be going back to these guys on future visits to Taipei.

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