How to Make Barley Tea Properly

Barley tea is a staple in Korea and it’s brewed all year-round, prepared hot and cold. See how to make barley tea properly using roasted barley kernels and tea bags.

Roasted barley tea

Barley Tea

Barley tea isn’t technically a tea but an infusion of roasted barley kernels in water. Roasted barley is steeped in water to make barley tea.

Barley tea is called boricha in Korean and mugicha in Japanese.

It’s a staple in every Korean household and instead of drinking water, a lot of Koreans drink barley tea.

A good number of restaurants in Korea will have barley tea if you ask for it or they’ll just serve you barley tea instead of water.

What is Barley?

Barley is a grain that’s used in many food products. This popular and ancient grain is used to make tea, soups, bread, and alcoholic beverages.

It’s the world’s oldest cultivated grain and it is sold in many different forms from whole grain to milled barley flour.

RELATED: Easy Roasted Corn Tea

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Barley Tea Formula

To make hot barley tea: 1.5 teaspoons of barley kernels for every cup of water (8 fl. oz.).

To make cold barley tea: 1 barley tea bag for every 4 cups of water (1 quart).

My Barley Tea Pick:

What Does It Taste Like?

Barley Tea has a toasted, nutty taste. I hear it’s a bit of an acquired taste if you’ve never had it.

Is There Caffeine in Barley Tea?

Barley tea doesn’t contain any caffeine which is why it’s great to drink all day and night — it won’t keep you up.

How Many Calories are in Barley Tea?

Each serving of boricha or mugicha has a whopping 2 calories.

RELATED: Korean Citron Tea from Scratch

Is Barley Tea a Real Tea?

Barley tea is a tisane, or an herbal tea so it’s not a real tea. Real tea has caffeine and comes from the camellia sinensis plant.

It’s using the word tea is the loose sense of the word, as in an infusion in water.

Do You Add Sugar?

Sugar isn’t added to traditional Korean barley tea. I never add sugar to mine.

How Do I Store Barley Tea?

It’s best to store any type of tea and tea bags in an airtight container to avoid exposure to light, odor, and humidity. 

RELATED: How to Store Tea Properly

Barley tea recipe

Whole Roasted Barley Kernels vs Barley Tea Bags

Whole roasted barley takes longer to brew but it’s my preferred method to make hot barley tea since the taste is so much more well-rounded and smooth than barley from tea bags.

Barley in tea bags are not whole barley kernels but crushed barley. Having smaller pieces means the brewing process is made quicker but it lacks the depth of flavor you get from the whole kernel.

When cold brewing barley to make an iced drink, the smaller, cut of pieces of barley is perfect since cold water creates a smoother brew anyway so there’s no need for whole kernels.

So, for hot barley tea, use whole kernels, and for iced barley tea, use tea bags.

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barley tea

How to make barley tea

How to Make Barley Tea Properly

STEP 1: Combine water and barley kernels in a kettle.

The best way to make hot barley tea is using whole roasted barley kernels instead of tea bags. (Tea bags are best for making iced barley.)

The formula is 1.5 teaspoons of barley kernels for every cup of water.

I usually make 4 cups at a time using a kettle with a mesh strainer so that’s using 2 tablespoons of loose whole roasted barley. 

The best tea is one made with the best water. Use filtered water 

STEP 2: Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.

On the stovetop, bring the water to boil. After water comes to a boil, turn off heat and steep for 5 minutes. If you want a strong brew, steep it for 10 minutes.

Brewing it for longer will result in a darker color and more pronounced taste.

STEP 3: Strain barley kernels and pour hot tea into a teacup.

You’ve now got yourself a nice cup of barley tea!

Iced barley tea

How to Make Iced Barley Tea Properly

The best way to make iced barley tea is to cold brew it. Cold brewing is a method where you use cold water to slowly steep tea. 

Cold brewing takes longer than making hot tea then cooling it down but it’s my preferred method to making any type of iced tea.

STEP 1: Put barley tea bag and water in a pitcher or glass container.

No need to boil any water when it comes to cold brewing tea. Use cool or room temperature water.

As with any tea you make, use filtered water for the best tasting drink.

Each barley tea bag makes 4 cups, or one quart, of tea. I like using this cold brew glass pitcher.

STEP 2: Cover pitcher and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

After you’re done cold brewing, take out the tea bag and throw it out.

korean barley tea

STEP 3: Discard tea bag and pour tea into a cup. 

Because cold brewed tea is already chilled, you don’t need to add ice if you don’t want to.

RELATED: Cold Brew Iced Tea Makers

Barley Tea Tips

  • Use whole barley kernels to make hot tea. Use barley tea bags to make iced tea.
  • Barley tea can be found in every Korean and Japanese supermarket.
  • Unlike other cold brewed teas that take 12 hours to make, iced barley tea takes only an hour or two.
Barley Tea

Barley Tea

Yield: Makes 4 servings

How to make barley tea properly.




  1. Put water and barley kernels in a kettle.
    (Filtered water is best.)
  2. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain barley kernels and pour hot tea into a teacup.


  1. Put barley tea bag and cool or room temperature water in a pitcher or glass container.
    (Filtered water is best.)
  2. Cover pitcher and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  3. Discard tea bag and pour tea into a cup.
    Serve with or without ice.

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  • Maxat
    1 year ago

    Thank you for this post. How to roast barley grains? In my country I don’t think I can find Barley tea bags but can find barley kernels. I want to try barley tea.

    • Oh, How Civilized
      1 year ago

      Hi Maxat, I’ve never had to roast barley so I’m not sure I can provide an answer. I would start with toasting barley kernels on the stovetop, dry, for about 5-10 minutes until they brown.

  • 11 months ago

    A simple popcorn maker is the ideal barley roaster. I use the whole grain Here is the method.
    How I make my mugachi. The most reasonable barley available to me is pot barley from bulk barn. It is slightly processed to remove most of the hulls, yet retain most of the berry. About 15 grams are used for a cup of finished tea, this is about a heaping tablespoon. I make a liter at a time which is very convenient about five cups.
    Method: Toast 3 minutes in a sunbeam popcorn maker. Stir while roasting to make homogeneous. The toasted barley is then put in the blender with one liter of water and beat into a slurry. This slurry is placed in a double boiler for steeping about 1.5 hours. This is just below boiling.The pulp and liquid mix well and make a complete drinkable liquid. I might add in the old days people did not have a blender, so my method hopefully improves on the process. This unique process utilized the whole barley grain.

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