Adventures in East Asia

Betelnuts - Intoxicating Chinese Chewing gum

In Taipei, we saw these unusual little packages - which consist of "betel nuts" - sold from street kiosks.


Betel nuts are seeds from the Areca palm tree and are about the size of quail eggs. These seeds are split in half, spread with lime and pepper, and wrapped in betel leaves. They are then chewed like gum whereupon they excrete a red juice when sucked on that gives a buzz.


Betel nuts are apparently a Taiwan thing and I'd heard about them before when I wrote a post back in December 2008 on my other site OneInchPunch.

If you click through, you'll see that betel nuts are sold throughout Taipei and the outskirts of the city. With the latter, there are glass kiosks manned by girls dressed in very little, mainly to bring in business. Betel nuts are mostly chewed by men and older people, so go figure.

Unfortunately for me, the sellers in Taipei were not so enticing, although the kiosks seemed simpler in comparison. We weren't bothered about trying any betel nuts.


Would you? Or has anyone tried these before?

This entry posted in : Culture. Taiwan.

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29/08/09  at  03:46 PM
I have not tried them, but I have heard of them.
There are communities in Thailand where mostly the women chew them.
I've heard that they have a slightly psychedelic effect.
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29/08/09  at  10:06 PM
I have tried them. Texture was.. unremarkable it is a nut after all.
the Psychedelic effect I cant comment on, I enjoyed some uh. other beverages after. all in all I'd eat them again on just to check.
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30/08/09  at  01:11 AM
have not and would not try them.. first for health reasons (they are linked with oral cancer), but also because it looks so gross. chewing it leaves you with bloody looking mouths and horrible teeth. shudders.

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