Roasted Barley Tea: How to roast your own barley and make a chilled tea with it

Updated on April 30, 2014

Roasted Barley Tea (Mugicha)

Roasted barley tea is from Japan, China, and Korea originally. In Japan, it's called Mugicha, and it's a summer beverage. It's traditionally served chilled, and I agree that it's most delicious this way. Some people sweeten it just slightly, but plain is also great. In those countries, it can be bought in teabags with ground, roasted root in them. If you are interested in buying barley tea, go to your nearest asian grocery store, and you're sure to find it.

Barley tea has been hailed for all sorts of health benefits. Research has been done in three primary areas. First, they have connected barley with antibacterial action, specifically on some bacteria that cause tooth decay. Second, they found barley to be an anticoagulant. Finally, antioxidant properties have been found. There are also many traditional uses of barley, which includes as a kidney and urinary system tonic. Chinese medicine regards barley as a cooling and detoxifying food. Additionally, it is used as a digestive tonic.

In addition to making tea with it, barley can be cooked and eaten like rice, cooked into soups, made into flour and baked with.


How to Roast Barley for Tea

Barley can be bought in the bulk food section of most stores. I bought mine at the local natural foods store. I bought an organic, heirloom variety for only $1.49 a pound! It must be hulled, or it will start popping like popcorn.

You will need 2 cups of hulled barley, a wooden spoon, and a large heavy pan (preferable a cast iron). This will take about 20 minutes of constant attention, so pick a time that you can devote most of your energy to it.

If you've ever toasted nuts before, you know it's easy to let them burn. Do not forget about them!

Put your pan on the stove and pour your barley into the pan. Turn the heat to medium. When the pan starts to get hot, and you start to smell barley, you will need to start stirring with your wooden spoon. Every 30 seconds to a minute, you will need to give it a stir. Don't stir constantly, because you want to give the barley a chance to actually roast.

If the barley starts to burn, you need to turn the heat down, take the pan off the stove for a minute, and stir it constantly.

It will be finished when the barley is dark brown (check out the picture on top). It should smell a little burnt, but yummy. When finished, pour the barley onto a plate or a tray so it can cool for an hour before you put it in a jar to store it in the cupboard.

How to Make Barley Tea

This recipe makes about a quart of tea.

1 quart of cold water

3-4 tablespoons roasted barley

4-6 cardamom pods (optional) (this is not traditional, but very very tasty)

1 Tablespoon raw honey (optional)


Put the water and the barley in a pot, and turn to medium-high heat. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, so that it is simmering. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the cardamom and simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the honey, stirring it in. Let the tea cool for a while, and then strain it into a large bottle or pitcher. Put it in the fridge at least overnight to let it chill, then drink. It will last for up to 3 days in the fridge.

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