January 21, 2014
by Hosoda Eri, Okugawa Akane, Matsuura Rina
Matcha Soba, or green tea soba, is a very special and delicious Japanese food that can be found in Kyoto. This article will tell you all about what matcha soba is and how you can eat it.
What is Soba?
Soba is a kind of traditional Japanese noodles, generally made from buckwheat flour. They tend to be long and thin. Soba has been popular since the old days of Japan. Office workers and elderly people often eat soba for lunch because it can made and eaten quickly, and it is also healthy.
Soba is made from only three simple ingredients: buckwheat flour, wheat flour, and water. Wheat flour is used to connect the two other ingredients. The most common version is called nihachisoba, which is composed of a mixture of 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour. This proportion is typical of soba in most places around Japan.
Soba is also quite healthy. It contains a great deal protein, vitamin B1 and B2, and other minerals. So Soba is not only good for health, but also its taste is thought to be a uniquely Japanese one. Unfortunately, a few people have soba allergies. In some people, eating soba can cause itching of skin and throat, and possibly even death from breathing difficulties. You should be careful about eating soba for the very first time.
It is also common for people to eat a special kind of soba, called toshikoshisoba on New Years eve. Toshikoshi means ‘year crossing’. It is said that if we eat soba at the New Year, we will have a long life; long like the soba noodles.
How to Eat Soba
You can eat soba both hot and cold. Hot soba does not have a special name. However, cold soba is called Zarusoba. Zaru means ‘a basket made of bamboo’ in Japanese. In this dish, the soba is piled on a zaru. There are rules to eating it. First, you must immerse only one-third of the soba noodles in a special sauce in order to fully enjoy the soba smell. Eating zarusoba is the most basic way to enjoy soba. But don’t mind the rules too much. Please eat soba as you like.
What is Matcha?
There are many teas in Japan, for example, coarse tea, barley tea, roasted green tea and, so on. Matcha is a very famous and traditional type of tea in Japan, and one that is quintessentially Japanese. Matcha was introduced over 800 years ago and has been used in traditional Japanese tea ceremony up until the present date.
Matcha is made from high-quality green tea powder. Its color is bright green. Generally, matcha said to have a bitter and astringent taste. In addition, it can be mellow and somewhat sweet.
Benefits of Matcha
At first, old Japanese people said, “Macha is a sovereign remedy. It prevents many diseases.” Indeed, many still see matcha as a medicine. In addition to Vitamin C, Vitamin P, caffeine, tannins, and so on, matcha contains abundant nutrients. It is also low in calories, se we won’t gain weight even if we drink a lot of it. In addition, matcha absorbs fat and oil, so it also serves as an obesity prevention drink. There are many other positive effects, too, such as being a beauty enhancer, and preventing high blood pressure, the common cold, and cancer. So if you feel any stress now, we recommend you drink some matcha.
The tea leaves from which matcha is made are protected from the direct rays of the sun for a certain period of time. When the leaves are ready, farmers select and rub the leaves of the matcha carefully. Afterwards, they steam and dry them. Then they use a stone mill to make powdered matcha. However they can’t make a large quantity. For this reason matcha is expensive. The cheapest matcha costs 800 yen for a small container. The more expensive versions cost up to 4,200 yen.
Matcha in Kyoto
There are many kinds of matcha shops in Kyoto. Other than powder of the matcha, many other types of foods and dishes are made from it. Among these are matcha parfait, matcha ice cream, matcha dumplings, matcha jelly, and so on. In addition, Matcha is used for making candy, cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, crepes, breads, and so on. As you can see, matcha is an important part of Japanese food culture, especially in traditional Kyoto. Matcha is a splendid way to symbolize Japanese culture, don’t you think?
About Matcha Soba
Soba and matcha are both representative foods of Japan. Matcha Soba is very good for health because both of these two healthy foods are put together in one dish. It is, therefore, a splendid food of Kyoto.
Where to Get Match Soba in Kyoto
Uji city is famous in Kyoto. This city is located the south of Kyoto. It is known for Uji tea and the Byodo-in Temple, which is registered on the World Heritage list. In addition, the Uji River is very clean. There are a lot of matcha soba stores in this city. When you arrive at JR Uji Station, you will begin to see them. The nearest shop is located about a 5-minute walk from the station. If you walk in the direction of Byodo-in temple, you can see a lot of shops along the way until you get there.
What is Matcha Soba?
There are many kinds of matcha soba in Uji city. Generally chefs use Uji powdered green tea and high quality buckwheat flour. A shiny green color is the main characteristic of matcha soba. Matcha soba is not bitter and it smells of green tea. You can eat both hot and cold matcha soba all year round. In addition, you can eat tempura, dessert (matcha jelly) and rice together with your soba dish, too. The cheapest matcha soba costs 500 yen for a small container. The more expensive versions cost up to 1,500 yen.
Tokichi Nakamura Shop
To try some matcha soba, we visited the Tokichi Nakamura Byodo-in Temple shop. It took about 20 minutes to walk to there from the main JR Uji Station. We could see the Uji River from a large window when we entered the shop. From the view you can enjoy the view of the four seasons. Since we were there in November, we could see the colorful autumn leaves. For this reason, many people go to Uji on holidays. Before being served, we had to get in line and wait, as it was busy with hungry customers. Once we were seated, we ordered both cold and hot match soba sets. Not only did the bright green noodles smell like matcha, they also had a different elasticity than normal soba. Matcha jelly with sweet bean paste, rice, and Japanese pickles were also served with the noodles. And on the way out, we were able to buy powdered green tea, jelly, and cakes to take with us as edible souvenirs.
10, Ichiban Uji , Uji-shi, Kyoto
5-1 Renge Uji, Uji-shi Kyoto