As a country constantly basking in the scorching summer sun, Taiwan has its own way of coping with the heat. Forget air cons and electric fans, why not cool down from the inside? Shaved ice and snow ice, rather than the ice cream, are arguably the most beloved summer desserts in Taiwan. They might just seem a little bit different from the summer desserts you can find elsewhere. From shaved ice to snow ice (or shaved snow), here are some of the most unique and freezing tourist must-eats.
Shaved Ice (Bao Bing, 刨冰)
Taiwanese shaved ice, or Bao Bing(刨冰), is literally ice shaved to pieces, accompanied by various mouth-watering toppings. What often surprises foreign tourists is how the dish is not hard chunks of ice that would break your teeth, but crunchy, snow like layers of icy goodness.
Along with the abundant bowl of ice, you can choose toppings like strawberries, passion fruits, bananas (all kinds of fruits, to be honest), red and green beans, taro balls… etc, some even put a fresh scoop of ice cream on it. The most prominent, and most popular topping, is perhaps the fresh mangos. Mango’s season is perfectly timed with summer, and many expat friends had expressed their awe on Taiwanese mangos upon the first bite. They are some of the sweetest and juiciest fruits in the world. They just come with shaved ice perfectly and make the best summer desserts.
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As if the sweetness of the fruits and ice creams is not enough, shaved ice is often completed with condensed milk. However rather than being overly sweet, they match quite well. This kind of summer desserts may also come with all kinds of jam. It really depends on the store and what you’d like to order.
Shaved ice shops are a fairly common sight, and even if you don’t read Chinese, they are often decorated with enough pictures you can just point at whichever plate you want.
Snow Ice (Shaved Snow, Xue Hua Bing, 雪花冰)
Then there is snow ice or shaved snow. For foreign travelers who have never seen them, they would probably have a hard time depicting them. In fact, a snow ice shop owner in Dublin once shared that when she first put the poster outside, people thought it was crepe. Imagine this: the soft, fluffy snow that gently drifts from the sky, the dreamy kind of snow children like to play with, all become some edible summer desserts.
These are not mere imagination, but reality. Snow ice is the perfect incarnation of edible, feather-like snow, and is often flavored with cookies, fruits, matcha and more. They taste just as soothing as they look, dissolving into your mouth almost instantly.
As if looks and tastes like a fluffy piece of the cloud aren’t enough, recent variations have seen snow ice become even more photogenic. From Totoro themed ice shop to shaved snow that is covered with piles of melon balls, you for sure can find a snow ice that suits your style.
All in all, these summer desserts are already fantastic on their own, but are divine during hot summer days. These shops are at almost every corner of Taipei city, so the next time you visit, make sure you don’t miss out on these icy delicacies!