Most Famous Taiwanese Gelatinous Drinks, Jelly Fig and Chinese Mesona 愛玉冰和仙草冰

In the US, you can pretty much get bubble teas in any areas with significant Asian populations.  Taiwan is well-known for its bubble teas… Any variety of tea, red/black/green, with gelatinous balls of your choosing.  Or any combination of fruit juices plus the bubbles.  A rather odd experience if you did not grow up with it.

But I do not remember the bubble teas when I was growing up.  What I grew up with are the Jelly Fig/愛玉冰, and Chinese Mesona/仙草冰。I did not like them much when I was growing up.  My brother, Kevin, loves the Jelly Fig and he would get excited when he knew he was getting it. His face still lights up now when he talks about the drink 30 years later.

I guess our childhood memories are largely composed of food and the sensations certain food creates for us.  Our experience with food shapes our palates and becomes a part of who we are.  But I find myself changing with time, specifically on food.  I love these two drinks now.  They bring me a joy that is hard to describe.  I could say “try to imagine being really hot and sweaty and there comes your favorite icy and sweet drink that cools you down,” but I would not be fair.  What I feel is more complex and the joy is much greater.

When I find the words, I will write again.  For now, the technical details of the experience will suffice.

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This is the Jelly Fig drink, with a splash of lemon, honey, passion fruit, and some ice. Of course, there are chunks of Jelly Fig which you can suck up through a super thick straw.

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This is Chinese Mesona with noodle strings (the white snake-like lines) with ice.

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Chunks of Jelly Fig and Chinese Mesona.

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Like the frozen yogurt stores in the US, you can choose what topping you want in your drinks.  Here are all the neat additions to the gelatinous drinks.