Ordering an Ice Tea in Chinese

One of the first things you’ll notice after moving to Taiwan, is the sheer number of ice-tea shops. They literally are on every street, and in most cases you will have a choice of two or three ice-tea shops within walking distance of wherever you are. Ice tea isn’t just a drink in Taiwan, it’s a culture – so it’s obviously essential that you learn the various ice tea types, so while enduring this sub-tropical heat you can successfully order yourself a cool beverage.

A Taiwanese Ice Tea - Looks refreshing 吧!

Common Types of Tea

Some of the more common tea types you will come across are as follows:

Ice tea menu from Taiwan
茉莉綠茶(茉莉绿茶)

Pinyin: mò lì lǜ chá
Zhuyin: ㄇㄛˋ ㄌㄧˋ ㄌㄩˋ ㄔㄚˊ
English: Jasmine 茉莉 Green 綠 tea 茶

四季春茶(四季春茶)

Pinyin: sì jì chūn chá
Zhuyin: ㄙˋ ㄐㄧˋ ㄔㄨㄣ ㄔㄚˊ
English: Four Seasons 四季 Spring 春 tea 茶

凍頂烏龍茶(冻顶乌龙茶)

Pinyin: dòng dǐng wū lóng chá
Zhuyin: ㄉㄨㄥˋ ㄉㄧㄥˇ ㄨ ㄌㄨㄥˊ ㄔㄚˊ
English: Dong Ding 凍頂 (name of a mountain in Taiwan) Oolong 烏龍 tea 茶

檸檬綠(柠檬绿)

Pinyin: níng méng lǜ
Zhuyin: ㄋㄧㄥˊ ㄇㄥˊ ㄌㄩˋ
English: Lemon 檸檬 Green (tea) 綠

葡萄柚綠(葡萄柚绿)

Pinyin: pú táo yòu lǜ
Zhuyin: ㄆㄨˊ ㄊㄠˊ ㄧㄡˋ ㄌㄩˋ
English: Grapefruit 葡萄柚 Green (tea) 綠

百香綠(百香绿)

Pinyin: bǎi xiāng lǜ
Zhuyin: ㄅㄞˇ ㄒㄧㄤ ㄌㄩˋ
English: Passion Fruit 百香(果) Green (tea) 綠

珍珠奶茶(珍珠奶茶)

Pinyin: zhēn zhū nǎi chá
Zhuyin: ㄓㄣ ㄓㄨ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊ
English:The famous Taiwanese tea, called Bubble Milk Tea in English, but the literal translation is actually Pearl (珍珠) Tea. Thanks to TaiwanReporter on Twitter for reminding me about this tea – can’t believe I forgot but I am more a fan of Oolong and Green teas 😉

How sweet do you want it?

When you order an ice tea you’ll also be asked how much sugar you want – and unless you’ve a sweet tooth you’re probably not going to want full sugar – here’s how you can ask for the varying sugar levels:

甜度正常(甜度正常)

Pinyin: tián dù zhèng cháng
Zhuyin: ㄊㄧㄢˊ ㄉㄨˋ ㄓㄥˋ ㄔㄤˊ
English: sweetness 甜 level 度 normal 正常. Very simple, but there are a few important words here that you can use in a lot of other situations. The first is 度, short for 程度, which describes the ‘extent’ of something. So you can ask of a situation: 到什麼程度? (to what extent?). The second useful word is 正常 which means “normal”, and is used to describe things that aren’t out of the ordinary. So when a friend visits you in Asia and has culture shock from some aspect of living, you can say 在中國/台灣這個很正常.

半糖(半糖)

Pinyin: bàn táng
Zhuyin: ㄅㄢˋ ㄊㄤˊ
English: half  半 sugar 糖. Quite straightforward, and usually what I order when I get an ice tea, just the right 甜度.

X分糖(X分糖)

Pinyin: X fēn táng
Zhuyin: Xㄈㄣ ㄊㄤˊ
English: If you don’t want full sugar or half sugar, you can specify some level in between on a scale of one to ten. Common ratios are 八分糖, or 三分糖, which is 80% and 30% sugar respectively.

無糖/未糖(无糖/未糖)

Pinyin: wú táng / wèi táng
Zhuyin: ㄨˊ ㄊㄤˊ /ㄨㄟˋ ㄊㄤˊ
English: no sugar – both 無 and 未 mean no/without, and either of these can be used to get your sugar free tea.

How much ice do you want?

As with sugar, you can also specify the amount of ice you want in your tea, the common variations of ice are as follows:

冰塊正常(冰块正常)

Pinyin: bīng kuài zhèng cháng
Zhuyin: ㄅㄧㄥ ㄎㄨㄞˋ ㄓㄥˋ ㄔㄤˊ
English: As with sugar, if you want the normal amount of ice then just ask for ice cubes 冰塊 normal 正常.

少冰(少冰)

Pinyin: shǎo bīng
Zhuyin: ㄕㄠˇ ㄅㄧㄥ
English: few 少 ice cubes 冰(塊), essential just like saying you want a few ice cubes, but not as many as usual.

去冰(去冰)

Pinyin: qù bīng
Zhuyin: ㄑㄩˋ ㄅㄧㄥ
English: No ice. This one defies logic, as based on the words for “no sugar” being 無/未糖, you’d be forgiven for thinking that “no ice” would be 無/未冰 – but no, for some reason no ice is “去冰”, the reason for which I am not so clear – if you know then leave a comment below!

So that’s it, now you should be able to order yourself one of the popular flavours of tea, as well as specifiying how much sugar and ice you want 🙂

As always if we’ve missed anything or something isn’t clear, or you just have something to say, then say it below!

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  • You make me thirsty just talking about it! Can you also get 沙冰 in Taiwan? It’s a crushed ice drink, very tasty and refreshing in the summer months.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Allen Ke

    “去“ in Chinese means “go” – ex. 去公園 go to the park.
    but “去“ can also be used as a verb “remove” or “de-“, so “去冰“ means to remove the ice after cooling the tea.

    Sometimes we like our tea cool, but not TOO cool….that’s it.

    • That makes sense, thanks for clearing that up, Allen!