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.
What is Barley Tea?
- Barley tea is an infusion of roasted barley kernels in water.
- It’s caffeine free.
- It’s called boricha in Korean and mugicha in Japanese.
- It’s a staple in every Korean household and it’s made hot and cold.
- Barley is a popular and ancient grain used to make tea, soups, bread, and alcoholic beverages.
Whole Roasted Kernels vs Tea Bags
Whole roasted barley kernels are intact. Tea bags contain kernels that have been crushed.
Whole kernels takes longer to brew but it’s my preferred method to make it hot since the taste is so much more well-rounded and smoother than tea made from tea bags.
Barley in tea bags are in small pieces, which means the brewing process is quicker but it lacks the depth of flavor you get from the whole kernel.
Bottom line: For hot tea use whole kernels, and for iced tea use tea bags.
What You’ll Need
TO MAKE HOT BARLEY TEA
TO MAKE COLD BREW BARLEY TEA
How to Make Hot Barley Tea Properly
For brewing guide, full ingredients and instructions, scroll to the bottom.
STEP 1: Combine water and barley kernels in a kettle.
I usually make 4 cups at a time using a kettle with a mesh strainer.
STEP 2: Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.
If you want a stronger brew, steep for 15 minutes. Brewing it for longer will result in a darker color and stronger taste.
STEP 3: Strain kernels and pour hot tea into a cup.
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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.
Tea Sommelier’s Tip: Cold brewing takes longer than making hot tea and 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.
STEP 2: Cover pitcher and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
STEP 3: Discard tea bag and pour tea into a cup with ice.
Because cold brewed tea is already chilled, you don’t need to add ice if you don’t want to.
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Notes & Tips
- Use whole kernels to make hot tea. Use barley tea bags to make iced tea.
- Barley tea can be found in most Korean and Japanese supermarkets.
- Unlike other cold brewed teas that take 12 hours to make, iced barley tea only takes 1-2 hours.
Whole kernels and tea bags should be stored in an airtight container to keep odor and humidity away.
Once the tea is made, it can be kept in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.
Questions You May Have
It has a toasted, nutty taste. I hear it’s a bit of an acquired taste if you’ve never had it.
Nope, there’s no caffeine, which is why it’s great to drink all day and night.
Each serving has a whopping 2 calories.
It’s a tisane, or an herbal tea so it’s not a real tea. Real tea has caffeine and comes from the camellia sinensis plant.
Milk or sugar isn’t added to traditional barley tea.
More Caffeine-Free Drinks
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- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons roasted barley tea
- Combine water and barley kernels in a kettle.Filtered water is best for a better tasting tea.
- Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.For a stronger brew, steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain barley kernels and pour hot tea into a cup.
Hot Barley Tea Brewing Guide
- TEA: 1.5 teaspoons barley kernels
- WATER: 1 cup (8 fl. oz.)
- WATER TEMPERATURE: 212°F (boiling hot)
- STEEP TIME: 5 -15 minutes
- TEA: 1 barley tea bag
- WATER: 4 cups (32 fl. oz.)
- WATER TEMPERATURE: Cold water
- STEEP TIME: 1-2 hours