If you regularly enjoy drinking tea, you might have heard about Barley Tea. This beverage is popular across East Asian regions like China, Japan, and Korea. Barley tea can be prepared both hot and iced.
Barley tea (or in Japanese is called mugicha) is one of the summer flavors in Japan because it is popular as a summertime refreshment beverage. Not only have abundant health benefits, but barley tea has a toasted and nutty flavor that can refresh your body and mind.
But why only drink barley tea in summer? We will discuss more regarding barley tea in this article.
Keep scroll down to find easy recipe of How to Steep Barley Tea at home!
What is Barley Tea?
Barley tea (in Japanese called mugicha, 麦茶) is a beverage made with roasted barley and water. It may be enjoyed hot and iced, sweetened or unsweetened. This beverage is popular across East Asian regions like China, Japan, and Korea. Barley tea is extremely popular as a summertime refreshment beverage in Japan.
Similar to other teas, barley tea offers some potential health benefits. What’s different is barley tea is made with roasted barley and water, not from the camellia sinensis (tea) plant.
Furthermore, barley tea is caffeine-free and has a low calorie (2-5 kcal/servings). Because of that, barley tea is safe to drink anytime even during your diet.
Barley tea can be easily prepared at home by boiling the roasted barleys (for hot tea) or cold brewing the barley tea bag (for iced tea).
Barley tea comes in different types, and each type has its own flavor characteristics.
Roasted (ready to brew) barley tea
Barley tea teabag
PET bottle barley tea
● Roasted barley tea: used for making hot barley tea. If you happen to have the unroasted barley, you can easily roast it at home. Put the barley on a skillet in medium heat, stir around until the color turns brown (takes around 10-12 minutes).
● Barley tea bag: used for making iced barley tea. The size of the barley grains is crushed so that the fragrance can be easily emitted.
● PET bottle barley tea: ready-to-drink barley tea, so it’s convenient, but may have different taste and aroma due to the sterilization process. The container (PET bottles, cans) also could affect the original taste of the tea.
What does the barley tea taste like?
Barley tea’s flavor is often described as toasted, nutty taste. It has a light taste compared to other tea, with a slightly bitter undertone.
However, barley tea might has an acquired taste for those who’ve never taste it.
The taste could vary depending on how much barley was used, how long and at what temperature the barley is roasted, and how long the tea is steeped.
Please take your time to make barley tea according to your own preference!
Barley Tea is Popular in Japan during summer
If you visit Japan during the summertime, you will easily find barley tea in many places. Many Japanese make their barley tea at home, but they also enjoy barley tea products sold in grocery stores, convenience stores, vending machines, or restaurants.
Barley tea is recommended to drink during summer because of two reasons.
1. Barley tea contains minerals
Our sweat contains not only water but also minerals. Barley tea contains minerals such as sodium and potassium, which could be useful to supply the mineral loss during sweating.
2. Barley tea does not contain caffeine
Unlike other teas, barley tea does not have caffeine content.
Consuming a high intake of caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks in summer is something that you need to avoid because caffeine has a diuretic effect. Diuretic effect can increase the urinary losses of water and electrolytes which may lead to dehydration.
Caffeine in the Diet: Country-Level Consumption and Guidelines
In summer, you may experience dehydration or heat stroke caused by some conditions. Please make sure you are well hydrated before sleep during the summer. Excessive sweat while sleeping may cause dehydration which would make a heat stroke.
Barley tea does not contain caffeine so it’s safe to drink even before bed.
Barley Tea Facts
Let’s learn more about barley tea by identifying its facts!
ー Barley tea is called mugicha in Japanese, boricha in Korean, and damaicha or maicha in Chinese.
ー It is caffeine free.
ー It can be enjoyed hot or iced.
ー Can be sweetened or unsweetened.
ー Made from roasted barley, a popular ancient grain that is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. People use barley for making tea, bread, soups, fermented food, and alcoholic beverages.
ー Low calorie beverage (2-5 kcal/servings). However, people usually add milk or sugar/honey to boost the calorie.
Barley Tea Recipe ~ How to Steep Barley Tea?
There are few points to note before making barley tea at home:
The best way to make hot barley tea is to use the whole roasted (ready to brew) barleys. The aroma is said to be easier to come out by boiling roasted barleys. Making a hot barley tea requires more effort for the preparation but can be done only in few minutes boiling. This method (boiling) is perfect for those who are wishing to enjoy their barley tea with stronger taste and aroma.
It is recommended to use tea bags to make iced barley tea with the cold brew method. It is a method where you steep tea using cool water and tea bags. Iced barley tea is lighter in color and taste but refreshing to drink nonetheless.
Recently, there are the hybrid tea bags that can be simmered both for hot and iced barley tea.
However, if you could not find those, please be careful not to use the tea bags for hot barley tea as it may impair the original flavor of the tea.
Now that it’s all set, let’s learn how to make barley tea properly!
Hot Barley Tea
Hot barley tea is perfect for cold winter, but still delicious to enjoy at any time you need a warm tea. Enjoy!
What you’ll need
- ・Roasted barley tea
- 2 tablespoons
- ・Filtered water
- 4 cups
- ・Mesh strainer
- Put water and roasted barley tea in a kettle.
- Bring to a boil and turn of the heat. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes (you can add another 5 minutes for a stronger brew).
- Strain the roasted barley tea with mesh strainer and pour into a teacup. Serve while hot and warm.
Iced Barley Tea
This recipe is using the cold brew method. Iced barley tea is very popular as a refreshment beverage in Japan, especially during the summer.
What you’ll need
- ・Barley tea bag
- 1 or 2, at your taste
- ・Filtered water
- 4 cups
- ・Glass pitcher or glass container
- ・Ice cubes
- Put water and barley tea bag in a pitcher or container.
- Cover the pitcher or container and put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Less steeping time (1-2 hours) will result in lighter color and taste.
- Pour to a teacup. Adding ice cubes are optional because it’s already chilled. Store the remaining tea in refrigerator up to 3 days.
Barley Tea Health Benefits & Side Effects
Barley tea considered a healthy beverage and had been consumed in many Eastern Asian regions since a long time ago. Below is the potential health benefits of barley tea:
Health Benefit 1 Rich in antioxidants
Barley tea is rich in natural antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds, which relatively showed strong antioxidative activities if it is collected in a large quantity.
These antioxidants could protect your body cells against free radicals, which may cause chronic diseases such as heart and cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Thus, drinking barley tea is beneficial for human health.
Anti-Oxidative Compounds in Barley Tea
Health Benefit 2 Acts as Anticoagulant
Health Benefit 3 Helps you Relax and Sleep Better
Consuming barley tea may help you to relax because of the melatonin, tryptophan, and amino acid that presents in barley tea. By relaxing your mind, sleeping would be easier if you have a sleep disorder.
Barley tea also can be a good replacement for regular tea or coffee intake because it is caffeine-free. Enjoy the taste of barley tea and feel the relaxation effect.
Health Benefit 4 Relieves Cold and Flu
Not only rich in antioxidants, but barley tea also has anti-bacterial properties. Drink barley tea for a cold and flu home remedy so it could relieve the symptoms such as breaks the phlegm and cures a sore throat.
These effects may not show an immediate effect, but drinking barley tea surely can improve your immunity.
Side Effects of Barley Tea
Barley tea is safe to be consumed by most people with moderation. However, it may have some side effects for those who have grain allergy, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease. Please consult further with your physician if you have a serious allergy issue before actually consuming barley tea.
Buying and Storing Barley Tea
Where to buy barley tea?
Look for roasted barley tea or barley tea bag in a local Asian market, or you can buy it online. Some stores also provide the ready-to-drink barley tea but don't forget to try to make barley tea at home.
Barley tea is so easy to make, and could give you potential health benefits!
How to store barley tea?
Generally, the shelf life of the brewed barley tea made at home is 2-3 days.
After 2-3 days, the barley tea will have sourness and unpleasant taste.
Barley tea also contains starch, which is, simply, a lump of sugar. If barley tea is stored for a long time, this starch can feed various microorganisms. Always use a clean container, and always clean up the tea container every time you want to refill the tea to prevent the propagation of harmful microorganism.
For the whole roasted barley tea and tea bags shelf life, please check the product expiration date and follow the instruction in the package.
What is the best container to store barley tea?
● For brewed barley tea (hot/iced): please store in a glass pitcher or container with the lid closed, and place it in the refrigerator. Plastic containers are not suitable because they might have scratches or uneven parts that will affect the tea taste.
● For whole roasted barley tea and tea bags: please store it in the air-tight container and safe it in the cool room temperature.
Barley Tea Q&A
- What is barley tea?
- Barley tea (mugicha) is a tea made with roasted barley and water. It may be enjoyed hot and iced, sweetened or unsweetened.
- Why do you drink barley tea during summer in Japan?
- There are 2 reasons for this. The first reason is that barley tea contains minerals (sodium and potassium) that could be useful to supply mineral loss during sweating in the summertime. Secondly, barley tea is safe to drink and could supply daily hydration for your body during summer. Barley tea does not contain caffeine that may cause a diuretic effect which may cause dehydration because of excessive urination.
- How much barley tea should you drink a day?
- Like most other foods, barley tea is safe to take in moderate amounts. You may incorporate your water consumption together with barley tea because it contains minerals which is good for your body. Barley tea also good to drink during diet because it is low in calorie.
- Is it safe to drink barley tea during pregnancy?
- Barley tea is safe to drink for pregnant women, nursing women, and even children because it is caffeine-free. Barley tea is reported safe to drink in every research report and considered a healthy beverage.
- What are the health benefits of barley tea?
- 1. Rich in antioxidants
2. Acts as Anticoagulant
3. Helps you Relax and Sleep Better
4. Relieves Cold and Flu
- What are the side effects of barley tea?
- People with grain allergy, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease may want to avoid barley tea. Please consult further with your physician if you have a serious allergy issue before actually consuming barley tea.
- Where to buy barley tea?
- Get your roasted barley tea or barley tea bag in a local Asian market, or you can buy it online. If you are in Japan, barley tea could easily be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, vending machines, or restaurants (summer is the easiest time to find barley tea!).
- How to store barley tea?
- Brewed barley tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Please discard the tea if it exceeds 3 days. Store it in a glass pitcher or container with the lid closed. Always use a clean container and clean up the container every time you want to refill the tea. In case of the whole roasted barley tea and tea bags, check the product expiration date in the product package. Store it in the air-tight container and keep it in the cool room temperature.