Sanxitang

Sanxitang Teahouse 三希堂 – Shilin District

Sanxitang Teahouse (三希堂) is a contemporary tea house located on the 4th floor of a prominent Taipei tourist attraction, the National Palace Museum, or its local Chinese abbreviation, Gugong (故宮). While quite far from inner Taipei, it’s at least half a day’s worth of your time–there are 3 sprawling stories filled of carefully curated Chinese art collections.

The National Palace Museum is quite interesting. Lots of beautiful exhibits, artworks, paintings, calligraphy pieces, sculptures, pottery. But keep one thing in mind: cameras not allowed (they’re all checked into lockers before entering). Minders are everywhere to prevent folks from snapping a few, meaning the pictures below are from my cell phone.

The day we went, there was a line that stretched from one end of the museum to the other, to enter a jade display room. I kid you not, while we were there, hundreds of (mostly Chinese) people were lined up from one end of the museum to the next, all to feast their eyes on a Qing dynasty era sculpture of Chinese cabbage, in jade (翠玉白菜)… See it for yourself here.

Sanxitang's airy and sleek interior
Sanxitang’s airy and sleek interior

After a long-winded tour throughout, we decided to grab some afternoon tea at the museum. On the museum’s highest floor, there’s an airy light-filled tea room called Sanxitang (三希堂), named after one of Qianlong Emperor’s studies at the imperial palace.

The place itself is lovely. Huge windows welcoming in large beams of light, and sleek, contemporary wood accents. We were seated relatively quickly. Sanxitang has a strict minimum charge policy: $120 NTD per diner, coming out to about $4 USD.

Pouchong tea set - 臺灣茶香套餐, Táiwān chá xiāng tàocān ($180 NTD)
Meatball soup, as part of the pouchong tea set – 臺灣茶香套餐, Táiwān chá xiāng tàocān ($180 NTD)

We decided to get the Taiwanese tea set meal (臺灣茶香套餐) for $180 NTD ($6 USD). The set comes with 3 entrees all infused with pouchong tea: a Chinese pork meatball soup (臺灣茶香貢丸湯), a Chinese sticky rice dumpling (臺灣茶粽), and a tea jelly (臺灣茶凍).

Pouchong tea (包種茶) is a lightly fermented oolong tea whose leaves are wrapped (pouchong literally means “twisted kind.”) Its light taste lends a very versatile flavor.

The meatballs were cooked with some pouchong tea leaves.

The pork meatball soup made with pouchong tea aroma was light and tasty. The meatballs themselves had a nice chewy texture, and were juicy.

The Chinese sticky rice dumpling, also known as zongzi (臺灣茶粽)
The Chinese sticky rice dumpling, also known as zongzi (臺灣茶粽)

The Chinese sticky rice dumpling, which is sometimes called the Chinese tamale in the States, came wrapped in the more unusual maize leaf (traditionally, it’s wrapped in a deep green lotus leaf). It came infused with those tea leaves as well.

Pouchong tea jelly -臺灣茶凍, Táiwān chá dòng
Pouchong tea jelly -臺灣茶凍, Táiwān chá dòng

The Pouchong tea jelly was surprisingly delicious. With a milky cream sauce generously poured atop, it reminded me a lot of coffee jelly.

Chinese style taro cake - 丹桂芋泥, dān guì yùní (NT$ 65)
Chinese style taro cake – 丹桂芋泥, dān guì yùní (NT$ 65)

Not knowing what else to get, we ordered a Chinese-style taro cake (丹桂芋泥) for NT$ 65, basically mushed taro moulded into the shape of a cylindrical cake..with sugar syrup poured atop.

Sanxitang Teahouse 三希堂 | website
111台北市士林區至善路二段三希堂

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