From the moment that I landed in Taiwan I heard nothing, but amazing things from everyone I met gave me an idea of how hospitable the Taiwanese people are. I was a little bit skeptical at first and the intimidating language barrier did not help my confidence with locals and others. After more than one year and a half I have been living here, has been there any experience of Taiwanese hospitality which touched me the most? 

However, very soon I experienced it for myself when I met a Taiwanese lady who has an English name Joyce and a Chinese name 吳姿逸 (Wúzīyì).

In that time with my new friend named Joyce, we hung out quite a few times together so that we could enjoy the culture and the sceneries of different cities. For instance, there was a day she texted me and asked me that If I were available for a one day trip together with other friends. As it was planned, we visited some places such as: Houdong, Xifen Waterfall Park and Jiufen night market. Honestly, after visiting those places, I felt so tired and the only thing I could do was to go back home to take a rest. And unexpectedly, my friend asked me to go visit one of her friends. Honestly, I did not expect anything that could be impressed on me and inspired me that much since I have been living here, in Taipei.

Taiwanese hospitality toward foreigners has no language barrier.

As my friend suggested, we went to her friend’s house to pay the visit. I had no idea where it was but I didn’t have much time to think before I was being bowed to and welcomed in a Taiwanese by our host. We followed them into the front room of her house with a square table and about four place settings. We were a group of three: my friend Joyce, a friend of hers and me.

As it turned out, a crowd of family and friends to join us in what was going to be one of the most memorable meals of my life. One by one, we met the host family: wife and husband, daughter and daughter’s husband and a grandson, our host friend who had been preparing the food, - Smiling and nodding, her husband excitedly told us in Mandarin to sit down and start eating. Their daughter came out and welcomed us, and we all started eating with a resounding hymn of “kai dong,” which literally means start eating or enjoy the meal.

I can’t even tell and describe to you what flavor was in the meal, but I dove into plate after plate of many different kinds food - that I hadn’t tried before. My friend told me that her friend was a Chef cooking in a restaurant where I often go to eat “Omelets” that are prepared by her.  Can you imagine how my stomach opened to eat more food than usual? I don’t think I could ever recreate any of it but, wow, it was so delicious.  After, several toasts later, and a lotus pod dessert, my host friend decided that she needed to conclude the night with proper Taiwanese tea.

The Taiwanese tea is not only a commonly refreshing drink, but its presentation ceremony involves art, manners and hospitality in a friendly and sociable community.

"My first thought was that I'd never tried a tea that tasted of tea and what I could only describe as flowers”. I had to learn a new sensory vocabulary for this sort of tea. I thought to myself: 'How can leaves from one bush produce such an intense rush?' The experience was rewarding for my nose, tongue, mouth, and throat

I thought that the host family prepared the tea in a fine quality and served to treat me as a highly respected guest. , I “tasted” the aroma but did not “gulp” the tea. Conversation about the delicacy of the flavor provided an easy introduction to other topics where I did the best I could in order to communicate with them in Chinese. It was so awesome to me at that time.

I have learned that people who make the tea care about the type of water used. Rain water is said to be best. Then comes water from mountain springs, from streams, and from wells in that order. With the best tea, proper water, correct cooking, beautiful dishes and serving utensils host honors their guest with the attention to detail they give in serving the tea.

I learned more when I asked about the tea. steeping of the tea is important. When the water has boiled for five minutes, it should be quickly poured over the leaves. This first tea is to be poured off after 30 seconds and the pot again filled with boiling water. After steeping for three to five minutes, the tea is ready to pour.

When thinking of the most touching experience of the Taiwanese hospitality, this popped in my mind and I decided to write about that. This family living in the countryside of New Taipei city, impressed me a lot. Not even one of them could speak English and my Chinese is not good enough to thoroughly understand what they said to me. But the language problem did not prevent them from showing me their hospitality and welcoming me in their private place warm-heartedly. That was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.