If you don't know what strawberry taho is, you probably haven't been to Baguio yet.
Way up in the mountains of Benguet in Northern Luzon sits the ever popular Summer Capital of the Philippines, the home of strawberry taho. I've heard of stories of this refreshment-cum-snack dessert since childhood and finally had my chance to taste it the first time I went up Baguio in the late 1990's. Even as early as then, I did not really like how this variant of taho tastes. In fact, I found it quite disappointing, given the fact that my yaya (nanny) at the time kept saying she liked it. Could it be that I was just too hard to please as a kid?
Well, my poor relationship with strawberry taho didn't end there. Just recently, I had the chance to visit Baguio again for Panagbenga Festival 2011 thanks to the Department of Tourism. It was already lunchtime when the float parade finished and my stomach was already a-rumbling after failing to have breakfast. I was just about to give up when I saw a taho vendor and his metal barrels filled with soy, etcetera.
"Strawberry tahooooooooooooooooooo!" he exclaimed. "Strawberry tahooooooooooo, bagong gawa lang." (Strawberry taho, freshly made) I was reluctant in buying at first but since I was already near passing out, I had to buy a cup. Now, depending on which part of the city you're in, the price for a cup of strawberry taho may vary. Mine cost me Php 10 or roughly 20 US cents. I've heard that strawberry taho costs Php 25 in other parts of Baguio though but I guess Lady Luck was smiling at me that hot Sunday afternoon.
Bought this cup of strawberry taho somewhere along Session Road, Baguio City
It only took one sip for me to remember my first cup of strawberry taho. And again, I didn't quite like it. Perhaps my luck that day wasn't enough to lead me to quality strawberry taho. I found the taste predictably sweet. It was too sweet, to be precise. If it weren't for the distinct redness of the syrup used to spike its flavor up, I would not have considered it special. Sure, there were bits of real strawberries but as I said, I'm hard to please. Nothing about it was special. In a way, it bore me.
To fans of strawberry taho, I tried. I really tried my best to like it but there wasn't anything worth noting about this taho variety aside from it using strawberry (syrup?) as a sweetener.
I tried making strawberry taho days after I got back from my Baguio trip. I simply bought a mug's worth of soy pudding (tell me if there's a better word for that white stuff they use for the drink), made my own arnibal or sugar solution/syrup by dissolving brown sugar in boiling water and mixing chunks of strawberry and a bit of strawberry jam. The resulting taste was somewhat close to that of the strawberry taho I had in Baguio. This experiment made me want to try to make blueberry taho, mango taho, etcetera. Good luck to that! :))