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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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What I Use to Make Barley Tea
FOR HOT BARLEY TEA
FOR ICED BARLEY TEA
How to Make Barley Tea Properly
STEP 1: Combine water and barley kernels in a kettle.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of roasted barley tea or 1 barley tea bag
HOT BARLEY TEA
- Put water and barley kernels in a kettle.
(Filtered water is best.)
- Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain barley kernels and pour hot tea into a teacup.
ICED BARLEY TEA
- Put barley tea bag and cool or room temperature water in a pitcher or glass container.
(Filtered water is best.)
- Cover pitcher and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Discard tea bag and pour tea into a cup.
Serve with or without ice.