Barley tea is a roasted grain tisane which is extremely popular in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine. In America it is a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. In Britain, barley water is a popular soft drink.
In Japan, barley tea is known as mugicha, in China it is called maicha and in Korea it is known as boricha. The tea is normally served as a cold drink in Japan, whilst in Korea it is served all-year round, as a cold drink during summer and as a warm drink in the colder winter months. Originally, the barley seeds were used to make the tea, but it is now possible to find tea bags for this drink.
The Chinese often drink barley water with a meal to aid digestion. It is also known as an effective treatment against nausea. Many people believe that barley tea aids in cleansing the body of toxins. It is said to reduce stress and related conditions. Barley contains melatonin and tryptophan which works together to promote a regular, healthy sleeping pattern. Drink the tea prior to going to bed for a restful night’s sleep.
Barley contains gluten, hence people who are sensitive to gluten should avoid it.
Brewing Barley Tea
The tea is available as tea bags, prepared tea drinks or loose grains. Barley tea can be made in the traditional manner which was to add a handful of barley grains to a kettle of water. Bring the water to the boil and leave the tea to steep for a short while before serving. Some people prefer to leave the kettle on the stove and as the day goes by, the flavour starts to become more intense. Barley tea has a warming, nutty flavour which may not appeal to everyone.
Simmering the tea makes a dark, robust tasting drink. Bring water to the boil; add a tea bag or two to three tablespoons of loose grains. Lower the heat and allow the brew to simmer for a few minutes. Turn down the heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture and put it in the fridge to chill.
For a cool summer drink, add a tea bag to a jug of cold water. Put the mixture into the fridge. Once chilled, you can enjoy a refreshing drink. Remove the tea bag when the barley has brewed sufficiently to your personal taste.
In Korea the tea is made to an intensity that is similar to coffee. The Japanese prefer a milder taste and consume the tea as a cold drink. For a different method, you can brew the tea in cold water and place in the sun. This method of brewing is called sun tea. Cooks often use this method during warmer months to prevent their kitchens from heating up due to the boiling water.
Some people prefer a sweeter taste to the tea. You can add honey or sugar to your particular taste. For a refreshing drink, add a dash of lemon.
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