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Asian Market: Beverages

I was browsing the beverage aisle at the Asian market and felt overwhelmed. There was 5 different kinds of coconut juice, 3 mango, guyabano, lychee, tamarind, and on and on. These were the canned beverages btw.

Does anyone have a tried and true favorite? I know more than some of them are gonna be a miss.

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  1. I've enjoyed grass jelly drink since I was a kid. It's a fairly mild flavor, not too sweet. Not sure how to describe it, especially since I haven't had it in a while. It's not for everyone -- my SO didn't like it because there are little cubes of jelly in it. Worth a try, though.

    The coconut water is super refreshing, if you haven't tried that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: juster

      I really like grass jelly drink as well and also find it hard to describe the flavor - unless "medicinal, but in a good way" sounds halfway appetizing? Not for everyone, but I find the flavor and the chewy jelly very appealing.

      1. re: Sarah Perry

        I've never had the canned grass jelly drink - perhaps because I used to have the real grass jelly - in blocks - cut up and incorporated into a tall glass with rose syrup water and ice, or in other syrupy concoctions with ice; or in warm bowls of sweet dessert-like melang├ęs of stuff. :-) My parents used to buy those blocks of grass jelly from a shop which specialized in it and use it in "sweet treats" a la what I described (home edition) or after some begging from one...

    2. When I was young I always asked for soursop/guyabano juice. It was very sweet with a sour apple kick and I loved it. Nowadays I steer away from overtly sweet things. I like Sarsi, a Filipino brand of sarsparilla and Japanese soft drinks like Calpis which are mildly acidic with a slight yogurt flavor. Some stores also sell brands of mangosteen jucie which are on the pricey side as they are believed to be medicinal, but I think they taste like a great breakfast drink.

      9 Replies
      1. re: JungMann

        I second the soursop juice. I also like the aloe and the flavored Calpis milk drinks (mango, leeche, and strawberry) in the refrigerated section.

        1. re: Crockett67

          I think the Calpis milk drinks are a good place to start. The name has been changed to Calpico (at least here in LA) because Calpis sounds closely sounds like cow piss. :)

          The coffee drinks can be hit & miss. I like the ones from Japan - the flavors tend to be more pronounced.

        2. re: JungMann

          On the cans of soursop in my fridge, it says guanabana, not guyabano - are those the same thing, or is guyabano something else? I'm buying them from a Latin market, not Asian, so maybe that's the cause of the different spelling.

          1. re: LisaPA

            Yup, same thing, by any other name just as sweet.

            1. re: JungMann

              As the name implies, fresh soursop is not that sweet, and has a significant sour component. One of the best taste sensations of my life, impossible to find in the US because it's not grown here, and I think it's illegal to import.

              Swwetsop is more what the canned or frozen soursop tastes like.

                1. re: huiray

                  Thanks for posting this. "Requires tropical conditions" has me wondering, though. I am not sure I will be able to grow indoors.

                  My family is from Miami, and even when I scour the farmer's markets there, I can't find it.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Go for it! Park it in a sunny, warm spot indoors and see what happens...after some years, that is... :-)
                    [You're in the DC area...do you have a sunroom?]

                    I vaguely remember I might have seen it (the fruit, that is) for sale in one of the large "International Markets" [Saraga] in my area, but can't swear to it.

          2. Sour plum nectar (to be diluted with water)

            Corn soda

            Grass jelly drink

            1. The last few times to an Asian store, I've been grabbing a canned basil seed drink for the ride home.

              1 Reply
              1. re: FoodPopulist

                I grab a different one to try each time and got the basil seed drink on the last trip- and really liked it!

              2. I usually go for lychee, but there is a brand of "mixed fruit" that is really good. I buy it at a Vietnamese banh mi counter.

                1. Lychee juice is always a winner. The canned/boxed drinks taste don't do justice to their fresh counterparts, though. There is often a tinny taste. I have been known to get canned Thai ice coffee from the fridge eat the South East Asian or East Asian grocer. But with Vietnamese and Chinese bubble tea and dessert/dried fruit stores which sometimes sell these drinks often in the same shopping centers, for dessert drinks with basil seeds, agar agar jelly, tropical fruit, and the like, I'd recommend going for freshly prepared (though these places use syrups and canned ingredients themselves).

                  1. apple sidria is always great. If you need to caffiene boost, Mr. Brown Coffee I have always liked and I think the best tasting coffee out of a can. Gatorade used to have a flavor called Aritic Freeze, I do not know if it still exists but I loved it and Super Supa has the same exact flavor.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jester99

                      Yes, it's Mr. Brown Coffee I was thinking of, couldn't recall the name. I agree about it being the best tasting coffee out of a can or even compared to bottled options that are too sweet and don't have that little punch of coffee bitterness that Mr. Brown does.

                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        omg i used to work at a bar across the street from an east asian grocery, everyone on staff would each drink 2-3 cans of that mr. brown's stuff per shift! it was our "energy drink" before red bull and others really blew up in the marketplace. thanks for the flashback.

                      2. re: jester99

                        Have you lived in Taiwan by any chance?

                        I also like the sarsaparilla sodas - Hey Song in particular. In the same category as coke and rootbeer, but distinct.

                        Passion fruit with green tea, although freshly made is best.

                        If you want caffeine, there are the red-bull style energy drinks. There's one that comes in a small bottle, is purple, and tastes like grape Dimetapp syrup.

                        And I love the un-sweetened iced teas, particularly jasmine, green and oolong.

                        And almond milk is good too - very sweet, but very fragrant, and can be drunk hot too (they keep the cans in a heater in the winter).

                        I'm not fond of asparagus juice, or the sweetened tomato juice.

                      3. What do you mean by "Asian"?

                        BTW I would expect to find guyabano, coconut juice and mango beverages (tinned & otherwise) at the least in Hispanic/Spanish/Mexican/Central American markets too...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: huiray

                          In my part of the country we have stores like
                          that carry many of the mentioned drinks. And yes, some of the tropical fruit juices mentioned are also found in Hispanic stores, or the Hispanic aisle of this and other stores.

                          " Tawa Supermarket Inc. was established in 1984 by Mr. Roger H. Chen. As the Asian immigrant community grew in Los Angeles, so did the appetite for quality Asian food products."

                          1. re: paulj

                            At my 99Ranch market I like to get the fresh juices. As soon as you walk in the store, by the produce section, there is a counter with someone preparing juices (and there is some packaged in cups on ice). Winter melon was a revelation. OH I want to go get some right now.

                        2. My latest addiction is the Korean-made New Rice Juice, a milky slightly sweet substance. Unbelievably delicious. Found in tall plastic bottles.

                          Also, White Gourd Drink tastes like liquid cotton candy, very nice with banh mi.

                          Most of the large bottled teas are very good. The raisin tea and also the low sugar oolong are dynamite.

                          1. There's a lot of different varieties of aloe drinks, but I like the ones that taste like muscat grapes. I also like the green plum drink that comes in a little tiny can. I think it's this same drink: http://www.theasiangrocery.com/produc... , but the one at my local Asian grocery doesn't have any english writing on it.

                            1. Not being a fan of sweet drinks, I just love the UCC brand canned green tea and oolong teas.

                              1. Natchan Orange drink from Suntory

                                1. I tried green mango juice last summer. I bought it on a long walk and opened it thinking to get a cool, refreshing, maybe sourish drink like a lemonade. It was salty! And cuminy! Not at all what I was expecting. I put it in the fridge to try again a few days later, but I never did like the taste. So my recommendation would be to read the label before you buy - you might not be getting what you expect otherwise.

                                  1. Mango lassi is a big favorite at my house. Also mango-flavor "Frooti" juice boxes.

                                    One more -- the square quart boxes of nectars with the bizarre name of EasyMouzooooo.

                                    1. It's all about the CoCo Rico in the green can! yum

                                      1. Generally found in Korean markets, I like the sac sac drinks. They're full of pulp so everybody may not like them. But I find it fun to play with the little pulp bits in my mouth.

                                        1. I like most of the FOCO brand juices. My favorite is the Roasted Coconut juice. Tastes just like it sounds. Toasted coconut juice, with small chunks of tender coconut in it as well. I buy a case a month.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: JMF

                                            Where did u buy it cause I been looking all around sf and can't seem to find it. I only tried it while I was in Texas and I been craving it.

                                            1. re: slowroll

                                              I get Foco products at my local Asian markets. There are Four great Asian markets near me in the NYC Suburbs/lower Westchester County. The place that always has it, or will get it for me if they are out, is called Golden Village in Hartsdale, NY.

                                          2. My favorite is Calamansi lime juice. I also like the small orange juices with the pulp (not very adventurous but so tasty!) and tamarind sodas.

                                            1. Since I have yet to see durian juice in a US East Asian market, my vote for worst drink goes to the mesquite plum concoction consumed in Rockville, MD. Hideous. Think the aroma of charred charcoal sloshed together with salted plum.