Ramune has been a favorite Japanese carbonated drink since the 1800s. There are a number of theories on how ramune reached the shores of Japan. The first theory says that ramune was first served to shogunate officials by American Naval Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853. Another one says that Hannbee Fujise first sold it in 1865 in Nagasaki under the name remon sui or ‘lemon water’.
The third theory says that a Scottish pharmacist and entrepreneur Alexander Cameron Sim introduced ramune to the Kobe Foreign Settlement.
No matter how ramune was introduced to Japan, one thing about it is known to be true since the beginning. It was packaged using a codd-neck bottle patented in 1872 by British soft drink maker Hiram Codd which became popular both in Europe and in Japan, but the Japanese held on to the container longer than their European counterparts.
The codd-neck bottles are made from glass and sealed at the top with marble. When the bottle is filled with a carbonated drink, the gas pressure in the bottle pushes the marble against a rubber ring at the bottle’s lid, sealing in the contents. Nowadays, the only ramune uses the codd-neck bottles and has remained as the most common method of packaging ramune, though it is already available in plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
There are two companies who manufacture ramune. First is the Hatakosen, which is among the well-known beverage manufacturer and supplier in Japan. The company brought Japanese drinks such as ramune, ume plum soda, and ginger ale into the Western market.
Sangaria is the second company that manufactures ramune. Osaka-based, Sangaria is famous for its slogan, ‘Ichi, Ni, Sangaria’ which means ‘One, Two, Sangaria!’. This beverage company is one of Japan’s most established and far-reaching and who have cemented its status in Japanese pop culture with beverages like ramune and green tea.
How to open a bottle of Ramune?
For the first-timer, opening a codd-neck bottle of ramune may seem like a challenge, with the bottle’s marble seal. However, doing it is just an easy task.
First, the outer wrapper must be removed from the top part of the bottle. Once the packaging has been removed, a plunger topper and a plastic ring will be seen loosely sitting at the top of the bottle. Removed both of these and set aside the plastic ring.
Use the plunger topper to push the marble down until it falls into the marble chamber at the wider part of the bottle’s neck.
Some bottles might have two little grooves on one side of the marble chamber. When drinking from the bottle, just let the marble roll towards these grooves, as doing so will stop the marble from rolling further and blocking the liquid from flowing.
Did you know that there is a candy version of this Japanese favorite carbonated drink? The ramune candy was designed to taste just like the classic drink and is very popular amongst young children. Different companies produce these candies which are shaped like marbles, to associate with the iconic drink. However, there are other versions of this candy which comes in round shape with a hole in the center. The candy itself has a bit of a fizz and available in different flavors such as soda, grapes, sherbet, and a lot more.
Flavors of Ramune
When it was first introduced, Ramune’s original flavor was lemon-lime. Today, there are more than dozens of different flavors of Ramune. Some are classic Japanese flavors, while some are kind of unusual such as kimchi and curry.
Anyway, we listed down every known Ramune flavor we could get our hands on. If we miss one, kindly let us know.
1. Green Apple
Bubbly green apple ramune has a tangy and sweet flavor. Ramune is best enjoyed during the warm weather season, but you will find this particular ramune flavor excellent at any time of the year!
With a robust and refreshing aroma, the fruity flavor of raspberry ramune is perfect for cooling down during hot summer days or as a companion beverage to your favorite Asian meal.
A sweet lychee taste with a hint of tart, this ramune is best consumed after it has been chilled or over ice. It has a sweet, nondescript fruity flavor. Some people even say that the taste quite resembles that of a sweet grape but with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
4. Matcha (Green Tea)
No one can miss the favorite Japanese matcha in this ramune. It has the sweet and smooth flavor of green tea, with a fizzy aftertaste. This ramune variant combines the sweetness of a lemon-lime base with the refreshing flavor of the matcha green tea from Uji, Kyoto.
Like biting on a fresh grape, the muscat grape ramune has sweet and sour undertones. Since muscat is a green grape that only grows in Japan, it captures an authentic Japanese experience. It is light and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness.
Another refreshing fruit-flavored ramune, this one is a favorite among kids because of its light sweetness. It is such a delicious drink that some people are left wanting more even after finishing an entire bottle of this flavor.
One of the most popular flavors of ramune, this variant tastes just like the real fruit. A delight among soda lovers because of its sweet honeydew flavor perfect for Japanese festivals or barbecues.
With a distinct hint of champagne, the delicious, fruity blueberry flavor is a sure hit among soda drinkers It almost tastes like you are holding a bunch of blueberries in your hand!
Combining the flavors of creamy yogurt and soda, this ramune yogurt flavor has tart and sweet notes that can be incredibly refreshing, especially for the fans of Calpico yogurt drinks.
Sweet and exotic kiwi will give you an ultimate tropical fruit experience with a sour, tart flavor of a punch.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit found in Asia and is more commonly known as a pomelo. It has a similar taste like that of a lime and a lemon, but much more fragrant. You can expect to have that same taste and fragrance in a bottle of ramune yuzu flavor.
A classic soda flavor, peach ramune is a delicious, refreshing fizzy drink. It is not very sweet and comes with an unexpected floral undertone.
With a light sweetness and crisp, the ramune variant has the authentic taste of coco water but with a bubbly zing that will remind you of breezy summers. Good to go with the old-fashioned hotdog sandwich!
Bring in the summer memories with a bottle of sweet and fruity ramune strawberry. It was also the second ramune flavor introduced in the United States of America.
Since the beginning of ramune, the lemon-lime flavor has already captivated its drinkers. Until today, this mostly unchanged, original flavor is still among the most popular variants of ramune.
The sweet, mango flavor of ramune has a subtle taste to it. Mango lovers will have their fix of the fruit—in its carbonated version—any time of the day, any season of the year.
Another tropical fruit-based ramune variant, it has a tasty banana flavor, and it comes in a packaging where the wrapper peels off just like a banana. Indeed, the excitement in this ramune begins as soon as you open a bottle.
The latest flavor to join the ramune line up, this variant has the same characteristics as that of big, plump grapes that you can only find in Japan.
A classic soda flavor, orange ramune is simple but packed with a burst of orange goodness that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.
Fruity and sweet, pineapple ramune gives a fizzy, crisp sweetness and just the right hint of bubbly goodness.
Other unique flavors
There are other ramune variants which are quite ‘interesting’ and will drive curiosity out of the cat. Though some people might find these flavors strange, there are those who, interestingly enough, enjoyed its unique taste.
21. Salty Watermelon
Upon opening the bottle of this ramune variant, one will notice that it has the strong yet pleasant aroma of watermelon. As such, one would think that this will just taste like the regular watermelon variant. But wait until you get to taste it and you will find out that the salted watermelon ramune has a smoother taste than the regular one. The salt was barely there, but it worked to enhance the taste of the watermelon.
22. Corn Potage
Also known as corn soup flavor, you can quickly get a subtle hint of corn upon the opening of the bottle. There is also a buttery hint. Drinking the soda will give you a sense of something warm and creamy, but since it is a soda, there is also the sensation of something thin, bubbly, and cold. Though it may sound weird, others may find it delicious.
For those who do not know it yet, takoyaki is a Japanese delicacy which consists of a fried octopus inside a ball of batter and covered in sauce, mayonnaise, and flakes of dried fish. The takoyaki ramune variant tastes like a takoyaki sauce; with a zesty tinge that is both sweet and unique for a soda.
A little bit of a trivia for those unfamiliar with rayu—it is a thin, sesame oil-based sauce mixed with chili peppers and other seasonings such as garlic. Pretty strange for a soda flavor? Not quite. This ramune variant will let you enjoy an exciting experience more than its taste. At first, only its savory aroma is worth noting. It has the regular fizz of a soda and nothing much beyond that. But you have to swallow it, and there, the action begins. You will feel the spicy flavor in your throat!
After reading the label which says ‘Osaka mom’s homemade curry,’ one will expect a mild, savory taste from this ramune variant. After all, Japanese curry has never been spicy. True enough, the curry flavor ramune has a sweet, delicious taste like that of a natural lemon-lime flavor with a slight hint of curry.
It was kind of exciting to see that Korea’s favorite side dish, kimchi, has found its way to a well-loved Japanese soda drink. Taking a whiff of the drink will give you the taste of real kimchi. It amazingly captured the same savory flavor and zing of fermented vegetables. The soda has a spicy kick in the throat followed by a vegetable aftertaste. It is pretty remarkable how the taste of kimchi was translated into soda form.
27. Eggplant Water
This list is getting a lot stranger, isn’t it? For sure, you have never encountered any beverage with an eggplant water flavor, and you will never expect such for a soda. But, fortunately, there is a ramune eggplant water soda. Do you think a vegetarian would dig this one?
28. Cream Stew
Cream stew is just a regular flavor, but not for a soda. We kid you not—if you prefer savory-tasting pop, this ramune variant will give bring you a taste of the popular winter favorite dish with matching carbonation.
29. Chili Oil
Another familiar savory flavor just made its way towards a bottle of ramune; the chili oil variant will give you an authentic taste of the chili oil. After dealing with other spicy-flavored ramune, we already know how such will work its magic down the throat. It has a sweet and spicy taste that is quite perfect, in an unexpected way.
A truly authentic dish would have to have wasabi with it—just like this ramune. If you want to skip one step towards completing your entire Japanese experience, why not try this wasabi-flavored ramune? It has a mild taste, though, only extra bubbly.