How to Make Barley Tea Properly

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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 in two glass cups with ice.

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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.

If you’re interested in caffeine-free drinks, give Roasted Corn Tea, Citron Tea, Rooibos Tea, and Ginger Tea a try.

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



How to Make Hot Barley Tea Properly

Whole barley kernels in kettle with infuser.

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

The best way to make hot barley tea is using whole roasted kernels and filtered water.

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.

RELATED: How to Make Herbal Teas

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.

RELATED: Chamomile Tea Latte

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.

Storage Tips

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

What does it taste like?

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

Is there caffeine?

Nope, there’s no caffeine, which is why it’s great to drink all day and night.

Are there any calories?

Each serving has a whopping 2 calories.

Is barley tea a real tea?

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.

Do you add milk or sugar?

Milk or sugar isn’t added to traditional barley tea. 

More Caffeine-Free Drinks

4.85 from 13 votes

Barley Tea

By: Jee Choe
See how to make thirst-quenching hot and cold brew barley tea.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Yield: 4 servings



  • 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.


1. Put barley tea bag and cool or room temperature water in a pitcher or glass container. 
1 barley tea bag should make 4 cups of barley tea. Use filtered water if possible for a better tasting tea.
2. Cover pitcher and put in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
3. Discard tea bag and pour tea into a cup with ice.
Ice is optional since the drink is already cold.

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
Cold Brew Iced Barley Tea Brewing Guide
  • TEA: 1 barley tea bag
  • WATER: 4 cups (32 fl. oz.)
  • STEEP TIME: 1-2 hours

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the clear instructions and information. It certainly is an acquired taste. Where I’m from barley is eaten but rarely used in tea, so I need knowledgeable instructions on how to properly make it. <3

  2. I just want to clarify one detail about the cold brew: Tea sommilier’s preferred method is to steep the tea in hot water first, then cool it down (as opposed to directly steeping in cold water)? Thank you! I love this site!

    1. Hi Lady Byron, preferred method to make cold brew is to use cool or room temperature water and cold steep in the refrigerator using a barley tea bag. No need for hot water or cooling down hot tea.

  3. I roast my organic barley in the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees..
    it is a light roast which tastes more like a malted barley.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.