What is Barley Tea (Mugi-cha)?
Barley tea is made by brewing the roasted barley seeds, and is caffeine-free.
But some of them from different manufacturers or manufacturing processes might contain caffeine. Its safer to check the nutrition of the product at the time of purchase.
Barley tea is a very common beverage in Japan, especially during summer time. You can enjoy fresh and tasty barley tea because barley’s harvest season is early summer. But people drink it not only in summer, but in all seasons, and it is available on the market all year round.
Generally they drink it chilled, but hot barley tea is also aromatic and delicious.
Depending on the family styles, some add sugar or salt to drink. I personally used to like barley tea with sugar when I was a kid.
Barley tea has a long history; it is said to have been drunk from the ancient time of Heian era. They seem to have called it “Mugi-yu” (yu means hot water).
They started to drink it chilled from those times when refrigerators started to become popular in Showa era of Japan, and then it has been spread out as “Mugi-cha” (Barley tea). When we trace its long history, we can see that it’s not too much to say that this is a very familiar drink for us Japanese.
9 Great Things About Barley Tea
Since barley tea is so familiar to our daily life, it is almost not recognized that barley tea is a super drink! Let me show you some good points of barley tea.
I’m pretty sure this will get you wanting to try it :)
1. Cools down your body
Barley calms down the burning bodies. It’s an effective prevention of heat strokes.
As we all know, its best to consume food and drinks when they are in season, so it makes sense to drink barley tea in summer the most.
2. Suitable for proper hydration
Caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect, which makes them not suitable to take when you in situations where you sweat a lot, because they cannot keep water inside the body and instead, have the opposite effect. On the contrary, barley tea is caffeine-free and is surely to be said it is suitable for proper hydration.
3. Protects your stomach
Generally, stomach works not to melt the stomach wall with gastric secretion, but when you feel stressed or very tired, your stomach loses the power to work properly, and that could cause gastric ulcer. Barley tea will protect the stomach lining and that will help protect it from gastric ulcer.
However, if you drink chilled barley tea in one gulp, your stomach can be surprised and cause a stomachache. Please be careful. Oh, It’s me who always forget about my weak stomach and have a stomachache by chug-a-lug!
4. Prevents cavities
Barley tea can prevent bacterial adherence to teeth, and it inhibits Streptococcus mutans, which is the main cause of cavities or periodontal diseases, and said to have a relation with cardio circulatory diseases. Streptococcus mutans can prevent cavities, but that does not mean you would not get any cavities, so never to think that you do not need to brush your teeth if you keep drinking barley tea!
5. Improves blood circulation
When you roast barley, a compound that promotes blood circulation, pyrazine, is generated. This will help improve stagnated blood flow.Many Japanese women are sensitive to cold temperatures and that is caused by stagnated blood flow, it is good to take barley tea warmed.
Note: Cold barley tea will lower the body temperature.
6. Lowers blood pressure
“Gaba”, which is one of the components of barley tea, have to ability to lower blood pressure. It is recommended to take barley tea since it can be a prevention against high blood pressure.
7. Has antioxidant properties
Antioxidant properties will oxidize human body. When they pile up in everyday life, it will cause lifestyle diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke). Surprisingly, barley tea contains a component called “p-coumaric acid” that will fight them off. If you are worried about those lifestyle diseases, try drinking barley tea bearing it in mind.
8. Effective against carcinogens
Cancer is in the first place among the big three diseases in Japan. One kind of the activated oxygen that will cause lifestyle diseases is a carcinogen called peroxynitrite. Surprising enough, “p-cumaric acid” described in #7 has scavenging activities against this peroxynitrite.
Caffeine has a diuretic effect as mentioned in #2, and it is said to have an effect on babies. Human bodies will lose the ability of keeping water inside when we get older, so it is inadvisable for elderlies to take drinks with a diuretic effect. Barley tea, is caffeine-free, which allows everybody to drink without worrying about that.
Disadvantages of barley tea
It looks like drinking barley tea has only advantages.However, barley tea also has some disadvantages that you’d better bear in mind.
In Japanese households, many people use packed tea-bags to make barley tea at home. One important point to be remembered in that situation, is that barley tea “goes bad easily”. When you make it by using tea-bags, if the preservation is good, bacteria do not increase until the 5th day after making it, and there is no problem with flavor. But to increase the safety, try to drink it all by the 4th day.
There are two ways of making barley tea: brewed and cold-brewed. Since bacteria can easily increase in cold-brewed barley tea, it is the best to drink it in 2 days.
If the preservation is not good, it can go bad sooner. Even if it has only been 1 day after making it, if it tastes strange or there is some uncomfortable slimy feeling when you drink it, do not drink and discard it right away!
Making barley tea at home
・Select a heat resistant container that’s hermetically sealable. Better to use glass rather than plastic.
・Sterilize the container in boiling water before pouring barley tea into it.
・Do not drink directly from the container.
・Put the container in refrigerator to preserve. Do not keep it at normal temperature.
・Pay attention to the shelf life since it can easily go bad.
How to make barley tea at home
brewed･･･Boil water in a kettle and put a tea bag into it, brew about 3 to 5 minutes, turn off the heat and leave it about 5 minutes, and then remove the tea bag.
Soak the kettle into water and cool it quickly.（Better to put it into water with refrigerant or ice cubes）
※Quick cooling will suppress outbreak of bacteria.
When its cooled down, pour it into a container sterilized with hot water, and keep it in the refrigerator.
Cold-brewed･･･Pour water into the container sterilized with hot water, put a tea bag into it, and keep it in the refrigerator to preserve. You can drink it after the water is colored brown.
You can buy bottled barley tea at a Japanese food market, but it is easy to make it at home by using tea bags, which you’ll also find there. During summer time, you will naturally need more hydration, which leads to larger amounts of water consumption, so it is more economical for households to make barley tea by yourself with teabags rather than to buy them bottled. Generally, there are two ways of making barley tea: brewed and cold-brewed. You can read the intended use as brewed or cold-brewed on the packages, so follow the instructions for whichever you need.
Pros and Cons or brewed and cold-brewed barley tea
・Pro･･･quick to extract flavor. Good aroma comes out, and you can enjoy strong and full-bodied taste. Boiling and quick cooling will prevent propagation of bacteria, so it is hygienic and you can drink it safe and secure.
・Con･･･needs to spend a little time and effort by using a kettle or letting it cooled down.
・Pro･･･Less effort needed than brewed tea, and very easy.
・Con･･･Take some time until its flavor comes out. Less tasty than the brewed tea. Bacteria are more likely to propagate. Quick to go bad and has shorter shelf life.
For me and my husband, we do not use either brewed or cold-brewed but use hot-brewed. Put a tea bag in the container and pour hot water into it and leave it for about 10 minutes. When it turns to be a good color, remove the tea bag and keep the container in the refrigerator. As for the flavor, time and effort, sterilization, it will be between brewed and cold-brewed.
My impression for barley tea
We drink barley tea almost all year round, but the reason for it was just because it was economical, and did not know its effectiveness thus much.
After I learned all these things, I renewed my appreciation to it and thought I would keep drinking it as ever. All the good things there are if they are in a good state of preservation. I’d like to recommend it for various people.