“Red Bean Box is a service that delivers gourmet Asian snacks to your doorstep on a monthly basis. We help you discover new, high-quality Asian snacks from importers and local artisans that you won’t find at your neighborhood store. If you want a delicious new way to bring Asia and its vibrant culture into your daily life, then Red Bean Box is for you.”
I discovered Red Bean Box at the beginning of November, and was very interested in their service. They kindly offered to send me a complimentary box to review, which I was beyond ecstatic to accept!
Price: $25 a month with free 2-day shipping
Products: A curated box of gourmet Asian snacks and looseleaf tea
Ships to: USA, on the 20th of every month
Everything was really nicely packed inside the box. Wes, my correspondent from Red Bean Box, also attached a handwritten note to the monthly pamphlet. In each monthly box are 4-5 different snacks, and 1 looseleaf tea. For this box, the tea was replaced by a specialty drip bamboo coffee. When my brother R saw the box he immediately asked to try some as well, so I’ll include his taste feedback below mine!
The monthly pamphlet serves two purposes. On the back, it explains the cultural significance of the beautiful photo included (by Richard Lee). Inside, it has a little blurb about each snack in the box, including where the item is from.
Vacuum Fried Fruit Chips – By Greenday, Thailand (★★★.5)
Red Bean Box sent out two different kinds of these dried fruit chips (pineapple or jackfruit), and I’m so happy to have received jackfruit! Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pineapple, but jackfruit is one of my favourite fruits. Because of this, I was very interested to see how they tasted. I found that it has a muted flavour of the real fruit, which was surprising because I thought the sugar would have been more concentrated once the water was sucked out. I’m picky about my dried fruit, but the texture was good as well. Definitely would consider buying this myself.
R: Tastes like real jackfruit, but not too sweet. Has a nice crunch when bitten. Toned down smell of Jackfruit, which is a good thing. (R doesn’t like jackfruit like I do).
Bamboo Drip Coffee – By Hong Xiang Company, Taiwan
These two packs are the specialty drip bamboo arabica coffee packs. It is noteworthy for the unique design it uses (the two flaps in the second picture go over the sides of the cup, and you cut open the top before pouring in boiling water). I’ve included a picture of the directions on the back, as well as the two cups of coffee I brewed (using Nia’s handmade cups). I thought the taste was mild and smooth – definitely better than normal drip coffee and comparable in brewing time to instant coffee. I wouldn’t say that this is on par with other gourmet coffees though.
R: Tastes like normal coffee, interesting mechanism though.
Coffee Latte Thousand Crisps – By Good Appetite Co, Taiwan (★★★)
Red Bean Box recommended for these biscuits to be eaten with the coffee or a cup of hot tea. I tried them separately, and then with the coffee. The biscuit on its own is too dry for my tastes, but pairs really well with Bamboo Drip Coffee. I found that they enhanced each other’s flavour and coffee aroma.
R: I like the taste but not the texture – it’s not too sweet and has a chocolate flavour. (Note: R liked it more after he ate more of it).
Roasted Seaweed with Crushed Almonds – By Vitrely Wave, Korea (★★★★.5)
This snack was described as a contemporary take on the classic dried seaweed snack popular all over East Asia. This was definitely my favourite snack, hands down. It was an interesting combination of sweet and salty, but neither taste was too overpowering. It was also less crunchy that I had anticipated, and not as salty as the other Korean seaweed snacks I’ve eaten. I think this snack would be popular across all demographics!
R: Really like it. It is not too salty like the stuff we get from the asian store. Hard to stop eating once you start. Healthy too. Tastes great!
Plum Vinegar Drink – By Shih-Chuan Excellence Food Co, Taiwan (★★★★)
Drinking vinegars might be a phrase that isn’t heard a lot in the West, but they’re very popular back East. It’s a simple mix of water, vinegar, juice, and sugar that gives a slight kick while remaining sweet. Red Bean Box recommended chilling it and adding soda water for a non-alcoholic drink, or using it in cocktails or mixed with rum. Unfortunately I had neither soda nor alcohol at home, so I will wait until next time to try it as a cocktail! I thought it tasted like fruit punch with a bit of a vinegar taste. On my first sip I found the vinegar to be quite evident, but then the acidity disappeared and was replaced by a mild sweet flavour.
R: It tastes a little like champagne. I thought it would be very sour, but the taste is complex. It is a little sour, and the tart flavour adds another dimension to the drink.
Starfruit Candy – By Liuhder Foods, Taiwan (★★★)
These star fruit candy are flavoured with star fruit, a popular sweet and tart summer fruit. I thought it tasted similar to guava candy and a milder version of plum candy. I definitely liked it better than plum candy, but prefer the flavour of fresh star fruit to this hard candy form. This candy would be more for someone who has an asian palate or is asian at heart.
R: Do not like. It tastes just like plum candy – sour.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed trying out all of these snacks! They were definitely interesting, and nothing that I’ve tried before (being half-asian, I’ve tried quite a few Asian snacks growing up). Wes, my correspondent at Red Bean Box, was very courteous and nice. He emailed me when the packages were first sent out, and a few days later when he noticed that the package had dropped off the UPS tracking list. I have absolutely no complaints, and the service was phenomenal. I’m just mad at UPS for making me wait 😀
In regards to the box – just like with any subscription box, some products are going to be hits, and some are going to be misses. I really appreciated how Red Bean Box offered suggestions for how to pair the products together, or how to use the products in another setting (if only I had rum on hand…). The snacks were all healthy and not filled with unreasonable amounts of sugar or salt, which is a common issue in Asian snacks. I know that $25 can be a tad expensive, but I do think the service was great. Personally, I would subscribe to Red Bean Box for special holidays, such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, or the Mid-Autumn festival. I also think a subscription would be a great gift to a friend/loved one (hint hint: R).