Drinking a cup of papaya milk should be on everyone’s to-eat list when visiting Taiwan, and when in Kaohsiung, Jheng Papaya Milk 牛奶 鄭老牌, an institution since 1965 of the Liuhe Night Market 六合夜市, is a sure place to get it at. I can’t personally attest to the veracity of the Taiwanese rumor that papaya milk acts as a breast enhancer for girls, but this makes the drink no less tasty, and is a favorite on the island. If papaya doesn’t float your boat, many other fruits are available. The 雄好呷 author especially recommends the honey white bitter gourd juice 蜂蜜苦瓜汁 and the mango juice 芒果汁.
All the drinks cost a flat 50NT, a tad pricier than at the average fruit juice stand, but justified by the quality of the ingredients. The Taiwan number 2 variety of papaya is delivered daily from a farm in Pingtung county, the fruits are harvested just before reaching their peak of ripeness, accounting for the packaging and delivery time during which they arrive at maturity. The sweet factor here comes in the form of liquid brown sugar, prepared in-house, a time consuming process taking at least eight hours. As for the dairy supply, it is provided daily by the Kaohsiung Dairy Farm, famous for its prized small glass bottles encapsulating milk from cows milked that same day.
While I admire Jheng Papaya Milk for so carefully selecting its ingredients, it is a pity that the same quality standard isn’t held throughout the process, by making drinks to order instead of preparing some in advance. Although, they have a cold compartment to store drinks in, when it comes to fresh fruit juice, I personally find them best when made to order, a few minutes of sitting and it’s not the same. From what I’ve observed, only the papaya milk (as can be seen in the picture above) and white bitter gourd juice are prepped in advance, mainly to get the line moving quicker whenever a mainland Chinese tour group gets dropped off at the night market.
Now, frankly speaking, there are fruit juice stands in about every neighborhood in Kaohsiung, the one near where I live has papaya milk for 40NT and comes in a bigger cup. It may not use same quality of ingredients, but taste-wise, it comes down to about the same papaya milk deliciousness.
Fruit juice is such affordable treat in Taiwan, that I don’t even recall the last time I bought a bottled or packaged (so-called) fruit juice at a store, so I recommend you do the same, skip those industrially processed drinks, and patronize your local fruit stand! 😉