Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ume-Kobucha


The tea that I crave for once in a while

The tea is sometimes served after cuisines at a restaurant or you might find it in a tea set in a hotel room. I used to have it at my grandma’s place as well. It is ume-kobucha. Ume means plum and kobu is a kind of seaweed, kelp. It is originally powdered dried seaweed and plum. Nowadays, artificial flavors seem to be used on many products. It is prepared by mixing with hot water. This is not a kind of tea that I have every day, but it is the tea that I crave for once in a while. The other day, I bought ume-kobucha on impulse when I saw a lot of them on the shelf at the supermarket, hehe.

Umekobucha


Review

Its aroma is reminiscent of ocean. A hint of shiso plant or Japanese basil adds an elegance on its aroma. The flavor mainly consists of the rich umami of the seaweed and gentle salty taste. It doesn’t have a bitter taste like green tea has. It is like having a good soup. Delicate sourness of plum and shiso enhance the fulfilling umami flavor and gives a refreshing accent onto it.

Umekobucha


Tea of the good old days

Western people might not like the seaweed or umami at first. Too much umami can be disgusting. However, once you get used to it, it will be quite seductive. I prefer thinly prepared ume-kobucha. It’s relaxing and peaceful concoction. It is the tea of warmth which is associated with a moment with family in a tatami room on a chilly day.

Umekobucha



24 comments:

  1. Ume Kobu-cha is very refreshing and thirst quenching indeed. As it is available in instant forms, it is at the same time easy to brew as well. However, I would say that in my perception it is closer to a soup rather than an actual tea. A very healthy and delicious beverage though.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Tyas-san, I agree. It is like a soup. I guess that rich kobu and salty flavor helps to it.

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  2. Thanks for the review, Kohei-san.
    I was always keeping an eye on Kelp tea but haven't tried yet.
    Btw I have read a lot of different spellings of Kelp tea such as: Kombu-Cha, Konbu-Cha or Kobu-Cha. Do you know why there is not a single spelling for this tea?

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    Replies
    1. Kelp is called either Kobu or Konbu(Kombu) in Japanese. They are the same. I guess when we talk about the plant, we often say Konbu(Kombu). When it becomes food, we often call it Kobu. So, for tea, I prefer calling it Kobucha.
      However, this rule is not absolute thing. Actually, it says Konbucha on the package of the product I bought, hahaha.
      I noticed a typo on the title of this entry, which I’ve already corrected. Thanks to your comment!

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  3. This sounds like it would be great in ochazuke.

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    1. You might be right, AngerinDoll-san,
      I’ve never tried it but I must be great. I got to try it!

      Delete
  4. Oh I too was wondering when to use "konbu" "kombu" or "kobu." And I never thought of using ume-konbucha in ochazuke, but that sounds like a great idea, since often ume is put in ochazuke anyway. These comments are very useful :) Thanks for the post!

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    1. Thanks, Tea Apprentice-san,
      You are right. We put umeboshi in ochazuke. I wonder what topping goes well with the umekobucha chazuke.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Come and visit me. I'll serve you a cup of umekobucha, hahaha.

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    2. Wouldn't that be nice!

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  6. From Ume-lover: Kohei-san, thanks for this page. When I used to live in Japan, ume-kobucha was my favourite drink, together with ume-shu (plum wine), and one of my favourite food products is ume-boshi (pickled plum) which I absolutely love. I know this sounds like I am obsessed with ume, but the truth is I really love it! I live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. Do you know where I could buy ume-kobucha, ume-shu and ume-boshi in Australia? It does not matter if it is an online store as long as the products and mailing is not terribly expensive.

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    1. I love umeshu, too! You don’t seem to have a Japanese or Asian grocery store in your neighborhood. Bummer! Unfortunately, I don’t know any online shop that can ship ume products to overseas.
      So, you’ve lived here. It’s a little surprise to know that you love umeboshi. I believe that not many people from foreign countries like it. I glad that you like it. Ume blooms are beautiful to look at, as well.

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    2. Thanks for your reply, Kohei-san. I will keep looking, and if I find any shops or online stores in Australia which sell ume-kobucha, I can post them here for others to read. Is that okay?

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    3. Of course, it will be appreciated. Thanks!

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  7. I love umeshu and umeboshi even though I am a Gaijin. When I have a craving for Japanese food products I order from Store Naito in shirakawa - cho kami-gun gifu-ken. The shipping rates are high but to me it's worth it. They have a wonderful matcha candy from Nitta seicha that my grandson loves. You can Google Store Naito for inquiries.

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  8. Nitta Seicha also has award winning tea. I must add that I am not related....the same last name is only a coincidence.

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  10. I have been enjoying some ume konbucha that my colleague bought for me on her recent trip to Japan and I do quite enjoy it. It is exactly as you describe, soup-like with hints of kelp and plum. However, I have been concerned about its nutritional content and especially whether or not there has been MSG added. After all, MSG was first discovered as the glutamate salts in seaweed and patented by a Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda (菊苗池田), and then commercialized for mass production by Ajinomoto. Whether the umami flavour (same as MSG) is natural or manufactured, I probably shouldn't have so much of it.

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    1. Hi, Michael-san,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that you enjoy ume-kobucha.

      Unfortunately, some kind of artificial umami flavor is probably added in the product that I bought. I’m not sure if it is MSG. According to Wikipedia, most of products nowadays is used chemical seasoning. Itoen has an additive-free product. It’s Japanese site, but just for your information, I’ll paste the link.
      http://www.itoen.co.jp/products/detail.php?id=390

      Enjoy your tea!

      Delete
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