Barley Tea, Roasted



Roasted barley tea is a tisane made from roasted barley, which is popular in Japanese and Korean cuisine. It is also used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that doesn't require any sugar or lemon, and it has no caffeine. It has a toasty taste, with slight bitter undertones, but much less so than tea made from tea leaves. It is often served over ice, and goes well with any type of food.

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Barley tea, or mugicha, has been in Japan longer than lemonade has been in the United States. It is a great way to cool off and relax on a hot summer day.

Simmering makes the most robust tasting and dark mugicha. To make mugicha this way, bring water up to a boil, throw in the loose grains, lower the heat and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat off and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then strain and chill in the fridge. Allow one tea bag or 2-3 tablespoons of loose grains per liter (about a quart) of water.

Cold brewing is so convenient though that I tend to make mugicha this way most of the time. It’s lighter in color and taste, but refreshing to drink nonetheless. Just put a mugicha tea bag in a jug of cold water and put it in the fridge; when it’s nicely chilled, the tea is ready. It can be sweetened or unsweetened, to your taste.