Taipei, Taiwan

Initial Position

As drinking tea is a bigger part of Taiwanese culture, encountering spaces where tea is being served is a lot easier than in Germany. Different consumer requirements are covered through a wide variety of spaces which make the consumption of tea common in daily. After collecting and categorising research questions we narrowed down the subjects to develop a starting-position with two main research questions for Taiwan.

What variety of TEA SPACES exists and what is the room and product range for immediate consumption?
What are the motives for people visiting Tea Spaces for Tea consumption?

There are several activities surrounding tea drinking, such as how people interact in various situations and how modern influences affect the meaning of traditional custom. At this point two main categories emerged which divided the places of action for the further research process in the perception of traditional types of tea houses and modern appearances of take away stores. Drinking tea in Taiwan is no longer just a part of the traditional „Cha Dao“ ceremony but also the easily accessible „to go“ store for immediate consumption.

Desk Research

Based on the formulated main guiding questions a research plan was set up which focused on physical.- product.- and social dimensions of tea spaces.
In order to structure the desk research and to prepare for the field work we clarified useful methods to deep dive into important headlines such as TIME, SPACE- and SOCIAL INTERACTION.

Field Research

Research I – Explore Broad:


  • field observation
  • photo observation
  • observation sheets (physical, social, product)

For our first research in Taiwan we decided to go out, find and analyse different places where tea is purchased for immediate consumption. Therefore the Taiwanese students in the group created a map with several tea houses, restaurants and take away tea shops that seemed to be interesting, based on their own experience and desk research. Questions to be answered in the text which emerged by the observations:

  • How and where is the information in tea spaces represented/displayed/communicated – relating to price, quality and origen and tea product range?
  • Which are the most important and obvious micro events during the preparation and consumption within a single tea space experience?
  • Is the social aspect the strongest criteria for tea consumption within a place?

The team prepared three different observation sheets upfront, in order to document the diverse aspects we would observe to answer our research questions.

  • Physical observation sheet: to collect basic facts about the location like size, light, noise or a special setting.
  • Product and information sheet: to document how information for the customer is communicated (signs, menu, host..) as well as the different products that are offered and in what way.
  • Social observation sheet: for the social interaction and the different side activities going on.

We then split up into three equal groups to visit four to five of the locations we selected, trying to give every group a variety from street store to tea house. After the observations the whole group gathered and visualized the information in one big overview to find similarities and and special features.

Item Overview


The Smith&Hsu tea house offers a wide range of local and even international teas. The information is communicated by providing a tray of tea samples supported by an additional menue (with further information about price, origin, etc. more

by timo.wischmeier

#184 Surrounding

Before entering the specific room of “cha dao” (ceremony), people pull off their shoes. People have to do this, because the room is spaced with soft carpet. Tables are low and you cannot find chairs to sit on, so that people
have to kneel down. more

by timo.wischmeier

#185 playing cards

This picture was taken in a tea house called Tea King, where they also server a big variety of different beverages like coffee, soft drinks and beer as well as snacks and small dishes. The interior is not traditional but contemporary. There are two separated areas for smokers and non-smokers. The smoking area is open to the street. The customers were spending a lot of time there not only to drink tea and... more

by willi.hartmann

#186 Reduced Acceleration

Traditional Tea Houses are mostly used for calm and less noisy conversation within a group of peolple. Often the ceremony process is introduced by the tea house staff. After that the role allocation is rather flexible. Therefore the teamaster could be the host or anybody within the group. The set of space belongs to the host/group and depends on the number of different teas choosen. more

by anuschka.schult

#191 From Complex to Clear

The set of itmes and a progression of steps which needs to be accomplish to fullfill the Art of Cha Dao. The flexible part which is leading to a more experimental experience of taste is the Choice of Tea and brewing time. In contrast the set of pieces and the series of acts which define Cha Dao are predefined. The common way to enjoy tea is beside “to go” products in relation to the traditional way of... more

by anuschka.schult


Conclusion I – Explore Broad:

Through the first exploration we were able to gain an overview of the existing tea space models and the habits of the local population. We identified three main categories: take away, traditional and modern combined tea spaces. Through analysing and comparing our data together with the Taiwanese students, insights were found that enable us to narrow down the topic and will be the groundwork for more detailed exploration.

Furthermore we noticed that, compared to other places, only few young people go to traditional tea houses. Concerning the question „What are the motives for people visiting tea spaces for tea consumption?“ we decided to focus on this observation and analyse its reasons, which means that we had to transform the question to „Why do people not go to traditional tea houses?“.

Research II – Explore Deep:


  • interview sheet

Therefore we created an interview sheet with the following questions to take a closer look.

  1. How often do you drink traditional tea?
  2. What do you know  about „Cha Dao“ (traditional tea ceremony)?
  3. Focus on „Cha Dao“ within questioning:
  • time (to spend doing cha dao, why spend time)
  • surrounding (modern interior, anywhere else)
  • tea (any alternatives, costs)
  • host (being involved in the process, importance of host)
  • ceremony (change process or equipment)

Conclusion II – Explore Deep:

After the evaluation we found out that young people often do have a limited knowledge of the product and the traditional „Cha Dao“, which means that it is rather a problem of knowledge than motivation. Furthermore we analyzed that people would prefer a moderised location and are interested in being involved in the process of preparation. In addition it is not important to have a host rather to experience it. This analysation signifies two main problems, concerning the choice of tea and the tea preperation.