“Cha soba” is a thin Japanese soba noodle infused with green tea or “ocha” or “cha” for short. It is made of buckwheat flour or “soba-ko,” wheat flour or “komugi-ko,” and the addition of green tea. The green tea is what gives cha soba noodles its light green color. Traditional Soba noodles are typically grey-brown in color.
The addition of green tea adds a subtle yet elegant flavor when compared side-by-side with traditional buckwheat, or soba, noodles. During the hot and humid summer months in Japan, cha soba is especially refreshing when served chilled, and the subtle flavor of green tea takes this dish to another level.
Chilled cha soba is enjoyed by dipping the noodles in a savory soy sauce and dashi-based sauce. There are several varieties of pre-made and bottled soba noodle dipping sauces available at Japanese supermarkets or Asian markets in the West. This convenience makes it very easy to prepare a Japanese noodle dish at home for a quick lunch or dinner.
- 1 7-ounce package dry cha-soba (green tea soba noodles)
- Optional: ice cubes
- Garnish ideas: sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, kinshi tamago, natto (fermented soy beans). See below instructions for additional garnish ideas.
- Japanese horseradish (wasabi)
- green onions, chopped
- thinly sliced seaweed (kizami nori)
- dipping sauce, (pre-made and bottled soba sauce or homemade)
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add contents of the dry cha soba noodles to the boiling water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes for al dente noodles or cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes for soft noodles or until your desired tenderness. For soba noodles, however, I recommend al dente noodles for the best taste and texture.
- Using a strainer, drain and rinse the noodles with cold water. To quickly chill the noodles, after the noodles are completely drained add ice cubes to the noodles and allow to continue to drain in the strainer.
- Prepare desired garnishes as provided in the description above.
- The addition of sliced green onions and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) to the dipping sauce is often a wonderful compliment to any cold noodle dish. Serve chilled noodles on a plate and the dipping sauce in a separate cup. Dip cha soba noodles in the sauce with desired garnishes and enjoy.
If you prefer, as an alternative to store-bought dipping sauce, a basic homemade dipping sauce for noodles can be prepared at home. A simple dipping sauce recipe for cold noodles is available on our site.
Chilled cha soba noodles may be served with a variety of garnishes. For example:
- Kinshi tamago (finely shredded slices of Japanese egg crepes or omelet)
- Julienned cucumbers
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Spinach, cooked
- Wakame (cooked kelp or seaweed)
- Sansai (cooked Japanese mountain vegetables)
- Kinoko (variety of mushrooms, sautéed)
- Yamakake (grated Japanese mountain yam)
- Umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums)
- Tenkasu (crunchy pieces of fried tempura batter)
- Natto (fermented soy beans)
- Daikon oroshi (grated Japanese daikon radish)
- Kizami nori (finely sliced seaweed)
- Shiso (chiffonade of perilla leaves)
- Scallions, finely sliced
- Wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
While it's somewhat untraditional, if you’re interested in adding meat, shredded chicken is a great compliment to cold soba noodles. Another popular protein often enjoyed with noodles in Japanese cuisine is duck meat or “kamon.”