All About Barley Tea

This post may contain affiliate links. When you purchase through the affiliate links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, check out our Affiliate Disclosure page.

If you’ve never heard of barley tea, you might be missing out on a delightful drink you can easily create at home. Tea drinkers across the globe revere barley tea for its delicious taste, health benefits, and its affordability. In this article, you’ll learn how to brew barley tea at home, so you can enjoy a fresh cup from the comfort of your own kitchen.

What is Barley Tea?

Barely tea is a light tea grown primarily in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. In South Korea, it’s actually referred to as boricha. As you might guess, barley tea is made from barley, the same grain responsible for the production of beer.

Barley tea is enjoyed hot and cold, and because it’s caffeine-free, it’s suitable to be served at almost any time of day. In Japan, it’s served by many restaurants, and is a popular sweet treat during the summertime. It’s also known to reduce appetite, making it a great addition to a weight loss routine or diet.

How It’s Made

Barley is grown in mass quantities in large fields where this tall, golden grain can sprout high and thrive under the sun. Once the barley is fully grown, workers harvest the parts for use in various culinary practices.

Barley is widely cultivated grain with an almost unmatched versatility. It’s often used for such things as livestock food, soups, stews, alcoholic beverages, and even health products. Barley tea, however, only uses the tiny kernels of the barley plant.

Caffeine, Carbs & Calories

Barley, being a grain, is loaded with a high concentration of gluten, so it’s considered generally unsuitable for tea drinkers with a gluten allergy. However, it’s entirely caffeine free and widely beloved for its various health benefits.

There are no calories in Barley, either, an added bonus for those of us watching our figures. Barley tea also contains many of the same properties as the grain it’s made from, including a high quantity of fiber, which can aid digestion.

Barley tea does contain melatonin, however – a chemical which creates natural drowsiness. In small amounts, it can lead to feeling relaxed, but if you feel sleepy after one cup, it’s because of the melatonin. Needless to say, this is a tea best enjoyed at home when you’re not in the middle of something important!

Brewing at Home

There are two ways you can make barley tea: using crushed kernels or whole roasted kernels. Using whole kernels will require more time and patience, but provides a more well-rounded flavor. Crushed kernels, on the other hand, are much faster to brew and are used more often by tea companies. If you’re purchasing barley tea bags, they will likely be filled with crushed kernels.

Brewing Crushed Kernels

If you purchase barley from a tea company, this is the method you’ll be using to brew at home. Brewing pre-packaged tea is always the faster and more convenient option, although sometimes it means the flavor is a little different. Here’s how to brew barley tea bags at home:

  1. First, boil some water. You can use a tea kettle for this if you have one available to you, or you can microwave a cup filled with water instead. Be warned, though – using a microwave to heat the water for your tea can create a flatter, less flavorful taste.
  2. Next, submerge the barley tea bag into the boiling water. Allow the tea bag to steep. Here’s where it gets tricky. Most teas only require a short time to steep (a few minutes). For barley tea, however, it’s recommended you let the bag steep at least 10-15 minutes in order to achieve full flavor.
  3. Finally, remove and discard the used tea bag and enjoy!

Brewing Whole Kernels

Brewing barley tea using whole kernels is a slightly more tedious process which requires some patience, but it isn’t difficult. Anyone can do this at home – all you have to do is purchase the whole kernels, which can be found at Asian supermarkets or online. Here’s how to start:

  1. First, you’ll need to roast the barley. Prepare a dry skillet on your stovetop at medium heat and add the braley kernels. Roast them, mixing frequently, about 5-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the barley with water. You’ll want to use 2-3 tablespoons of barley per 6 cups of water – so a little goes a long way!
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let the mixture simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Use a strainer to filter out the barley from the liquid, and discard the used barley kernels. You can make big batches of barley tea and store it in the refrigerator, since it’s enjoyed cold and hot.
  6. Finally, enjoy your tea!

What Does Barley Tea Taste Like?

Barley tea is described as having a nutty, earthy flavor with sweet undertones. It’s often enjoyed during late afternoons for its light flavor and soothing properties. When brewed, it takes on a golden hue.

If the taste of barley tea alone isn’t your style, you can always add extras to adjust the flavor. Adding mix-ins such as cream or milk, sugar, or honey can bring the taste where you want it. Keep in mind, though, that adding these little extras will bulk up the calorie count.

Where to Find It

If you’re ever on a trip visiting an East Asian country, you’ll find Barley tea just about everywhere. It’s served in restaurants and even in vending machines, served as a bottled beverage. It’s very inexpensive as well, making it easier to acquire for those of us on a budget. You can also find barley tea in Asian supermarkets in the U.S., or alternatively, you can purchase it from a tea company online.

Is Barley Tea Right for You?

Tea drinkers around the world adore the taste of barley tea, as well as its relaxing effects and health benefits. It’s a staple among Korean households, and has been enjoyed throughout history.

Although the process of making it from scratch can be seen as time-consuming, it’s not at all difficult, making this delicious tea accessible to almost anyone. Try brewing barley tea at home and give it a taste – you won’t be disappointed.