Herb Alley 青草巷 (pinyin: Qīngcǎo Xiàng) is a minor attraction immediately adjacent to the famous Lóngshān Temple 龍山寺 in Monga 艋舺, the old part of Wànhuá District 萬華區, Taipei 台北. Hundreds of years ago, long before western medicine came to Taiwan, it was common for people to visit the temple, pray to the relevant gods, and receive herbal prescriptions for whatever ailed them. Vendors setup shop outside the temple gates to help fill these prescriptions. Decades ago the prescriptions themselves were outlawed (and rightfully so) but the tradition of selling herbs next to the temple continues, albeit in a more orderly fashion out of actual shops along Xīchāng Street Lane 224 西昌街224巷.
Herb Alley is a dank place by design. The dark, dingy confines of this short street are almost claustrophobic—but it is also sheltered from the elements and ventilated to maintain the freshness of the products being sold. Several of the shops also have readymade herbal tea for sale, though I can’t say I’ve tried any of their offerings. Mostly I am just interested in putting another obscure place in Monga 艋舺 on the map!