Mugicha: Japanese Barley Tea

  • 2 min read
Mugicha: Japanese Barley Tea

It is well known that tea is a major part of Japanese food culture. From snacks and drinks to candies and desserts, there are many tea varieties and preparations, ranging from the popular matcha to the lesser-known genmaicha (roasted brown rice tea). And while the type and preparation of tea is usually determined by the occasion and setting, one of Japan's most popular teas -- prized in the summer for a refreshing, cold drink as well as in winter for a warm, toasty hug -- is not green tea, but rather mugicha: roasted barley tea.

Mugicha: Japanese Barley Tea

With a honey color and savory, roasted notes, mugicha can be a bit of an acquired taste. But once you experience the refreshing feeling of a cold cup on a hot day, you’ll be hooked. Not only is mugicha invigorating, but it also doesn’t have any caffeine, so it is enjoyed by adults and kids alike both day and night.

Although mugicha is referred to as a tea, it is actually a tisane, or herbal tea. It’s made from roasted, unhulled barley grains, and the toasty, caramel color is indicative of the flavors within, as the caramelized edges of the grains give it the almost savory qualities of toasted bread.

Mugicha: Japanese Barley Tea

This tea is popular not only in Japan but also in Korea and China, and for good reason! Mugicha is a far cry from the typical American summer drinks like Coca-Cola, Kool-Aid, and Capri Sun. The main differentiation is that mugicha is actually good for you! Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is thought to improve blood circulation and possess cancer-preventing properties. What's more, it's also believed to aid digestion and improve the quality of skin health.

All of these benefits make mugicha a perfect drink any time of year. Even better, it’s super easy to make! To brew mugicha at home, all you need to do is get your hands on some barley tea packets, steep one in a quarter cup of hot water for two minutes, and then transfer that brew to a large pitcher where you’ll add another liter of cold water and leave it to brew in the fridge for at least 2 hours. For a hot drink, steep a packet in a kettle of boiling water for a few minutes, and you’re ready to drink up!

About the author:

Kevin KilcoyneKevin Kilcoyne

The spark that lit Kevin Kilcoyne’s interest in Japanese culture began in elementary school through a friendship with his then classmate Keisuke. Since then, that passion has evolved and bloomed to encompass more than just video games and manga, leading Kevin to live in Japan as a participant of the JET program. During his time in Japan, Kevin sought out as many foods as he could, the experiences and taste memories lingering long after they had gone. Now he is forging a path to link his passions for Japanese food, history, and visual culture and is planning for his return to live in Japan once again. For now, you can find Kevin on Instagram (@waruishouten) where he posts his photography and illustration work. Keep an eye out for more posts and updates as Kevin delves more deeply into his passions for writing and food!

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