Barley Tea

Barley Tea

Barley tea, or mugicha or boricha, is a thirst quenching beverage that is enjoyed in many parts of Asian (including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China), especially during their steamy summer. It’s not really a tea, as it’s made from roasted barley grains. It has an earthy, nutty taste-a bit like coffee without the caffeine. Japanese homes will have a pitcher of this in the fridge all summer long, and kids and adults alike guzzle it all day. My nephews Aiden and Noah take it to school in their thermoses and it’s their preferred beverage. It’s not sugary like sodas and juices, so it hydrates more and is a healthier choice.  This recipe makes 2 quarts and it’s super fast, so let’s get into it.

barley tea ingredients

Health Benefits of Barley Tea

Besides being the ultimate summer sipper, barley tea is also prized for its numerous health benefits. Studies show barley tea can:

  • improve cardiovascular health
  • reduce the risk for diabetes/help control blood sugar
  • aid in digestion

You can find roasted barley sold most commonly in tea bags at most Asian markets. You can also make it from loose grains of roasted barley, and I give directions for that too on the recipe card below.

loose barley tea

Brewing Barley

There are two basic ways you can make barley tea. There’s cold brewing which just involves putting the barley tea bags in a pitcher with the water, and letting it brew in the fridge for a couple hours. It’s the most hassle free and lazy way to brew mugicha. As you can guess, this is pretty much my go-to. But you need to wait…So then there’s hot brewing. I do this when speed is of the essence:

simmer barley tea

Then I add the tea bags and the brewed tea to a pitcher with cold water so it’s ready to drink NOW (also to protect delicate pitchers from thermal shock and possible damage). If you want a more mild flavor you can leave the tea bags out. There’s really no over-brewing with mugicha. It doesn’t really get bitter or too strong. I like a robust flavor so I usually leave the bags in until the tea is done and then toss out the bags when I’m ready to make a new batch.

Refrigerate until cold, and serve over ice. Traditionally, this tea is served the way it is unsweetened, but you certainly can sweeten it with whatever you use to sweeten tea. This is a perfect afternoon pick me up, without the jitters from caffeine.

I hope this mugicha becomes a part of your summer routine like it is in our home. Give it a try and let me know what you think. You can rate and comment on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you!



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recipe barley tea

Barley Tea

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts 1x
  • Category: beverages
  • Cuisine: japanese


  • 2 quarts (64 oz) water
  • 2 barley tea bags

If you are using barley grains:

  • 2 quarts (64 oz) water
  • 1/4 cup barley grains


Hot brewing with tea bags:

  1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil on high heat and add the tea bags.
  2. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Fill the pitcher with 1 quart of cold water and pour the tea into the pitcher. (You can discard the tea bag first but I leave it in for a stronger flavor).
  4. Refrigerate until ready to drink.

Cold brewing with tea bag:

  1. Place the tea bag in a pitcher with 2 quarts of water.
  2. Refrigerate for about 2 hours and enjoy.

Brewing from barley grains:

  1. Pour 1 quart of  water into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the barley grains to the pot and lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Cover with a lid and simmer for 5-15 minutes. The longer you simmer, the stronger the taste. 
  4. Pour the tea through a strainer into a pitcher filled with 1 quart of cold water.
  5. Discard the barley grains. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


*Barley tea will keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Keywords: mugicha, barley tea, japanese, healthy, asian drinks

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