All About Ramune
If you’ve ever seen oddly shaped glass soda bottles in Japan, chances are you’re looking at Ramune soda. The question that then follows is, what is Ramune?
This delicious drink dates back to the late 1800s, when a Scottish pharmacist living in Japan called Alexander Cameron Sim began selling a lemonade-style carbonated soda drink. To bottle this soda, he used the Codd Neck Bottle: a peculiarly shaped glass bottle that used a glass marble inside the neck to seal carbonated liquids. The marble had to be dislodged for the liquid to flow easily – and it was this aspect that made Ramune soda unique.
Today, you’ll find that a Ramune drink is still sold in these iconic heavy glass bottles across Japan, remaining hugely popular for over a century.
The original Ramune soda flavor is lemon-lime mixed with a hint of bubblegum, making it taste a bit like Sprite. It’s mainly sweet, a little sour, and carbonated to make it fizzy: a delicious and thirst-quenching drink for everyone to enjoy.
There are over 50 different flavors to choose from too. Along with typical soda flavors like strawberry, melon, lychee and pineapple, you can also experience stranger carbonated tastes: how about chili oil, octopus, kimchi or wasabi?
Because Ramune soda is so popular in drink form, there’s plenty of Ramune flavored hard candy around too. It’s made with compressed Ramune soda powder so it tastes just as fizzy as the real thing – although there’s no famous glass marble inside the Ramune candies, of course!
What is the Ramune marble?
The Ramune marble is what makes Japanese drinks so fascinating to both locals and tourists in Japan, as it serves a special function. Because of the specific shape of the bottle neck, the marble creates a tight seal to maintain pressure and keeps the soda carbonated until opened.
Perhaps frustratingly, the marble cannot be simply shaken out of the bottle – but it’s still possible to extract it. We’ve got some top tips below!
How to Open a Ramune bottle
There are a few steps to follow when learning how to open a Ramune drink bottle. It also requires more force than you might think! You can also watch our TikTok opening a Ramune soda bottle that we purchased from a Japanese vending machine.
@bokksu One of our favorite Japanese drinks! #ramune #japanesedrinks #japan ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim
1. Open the bottle’s seal
Each Ramune bottle is sealed shut with a plastic wrapper around the top. This needs to be pulled off, either by snapping the plastic or locating the side rip.
2. Remove the opener
But wait! Don’t throw that curled up plastic wrapper in the trash just yet: inside it there’s a small plastic plunger which you need for the next step of actually opening the bottle.
3. Use the plunger
Take your newly acquired plunger and place it back onto the bottle’s top, where you’ll see a marble half-emerging from the bottle neck.
Push the plunger down firmly (you might need the strength of both hands!). This releases the pressure of the carbonated soft drink inside, which in turn forces the marble downward into the bottle.
4. How to drink your Ramune soda
Now the bottle is open, it’s time to drink – but there’s a technique for this too. There are two indents on either side of the bottle, which helps prevent the marble from blocking the opening while you drink. If you angle the bottle correctly so the marble fits into the indent, the liquid will flow freely out while the marble is held in place.
How to open a Ramune bottle to get the marble out!
Understandably, many people want to extract the Ramune marble from the bottle once they’ve finished drinking their soda, and generations of children across Japan have long been smashing their glass bottles to victoriously claim their marble prizes.
The main problem that Ramune marble-hunters face is removing the hard plastic bottle lid, which can’t simply be screwed off. Luckily, there are a few tried and tested methods that don’t involve smashing the glass.
Once you’ve finished drinking the soda, you can try:
- Heating up the plastic cap with a hairdryer, before carefully prising the weakened plastic off
- Turning the bottle upside down and resting the cap in a bowl of hot water. The softened cap should pop off after a few minutes
- Taking a quarter-inch flathead screwdriver and prising underneath the cap a little at a time, evenly rotating the bottle until the cap is loosened
For all of these methods, make sure to use protective gloves and eye protection. And you should never swallow your Ramune marble!
If your taste buds are tingling, why not try Bokksu’s Japanese subscription box? Every month you’ll receive plenty of delicious Japanese treats delivered to your door. You can also order a Daimonji handmade candy box, which comes with 12 bags of luxurious candies from a Kyoto-based candy maker.
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