Undoubtedly, drinking tea or “ocha” (お茶) in Japan is a relevant part of their culture. As a matter of fact, there are many types of tea available in the country. As they passed the culture of drinking tea to new generations, serving it in cold water or with ice became popular too. For this reason, the Japanese are now enjoying more kinds of tea. Barley tea or Mugicha, for example, has become a household type of tea.
What is Barley tea?
Of course, the key ingredient in making this type of tea exceptional is by roasting barley. Barley has a fragrant aroma which they often describe as nutty and toasted. Meanwhile, the taste is a little bitter and earthy just like other tea variants. Barley tea also has many benefits for your body. So, it’s no surprise that many households love to serve this every day. In fact, they often serve it cold during summer and warm during winter.
Barley is a member of the grass family. It’s a cereal grain that is common in countries with a temperate climates. In addition, Barley is rich in fiber and other minerals. Manufacturers also often use this as an ingredient for weight loss and diabetes-friendly products. It’s not just a popular ingredient for food, but it’s also great for making medicine.
The main advantage of Barley tea is that it doesn’t contain caffeine and tannins. Since these are common in leaf teas such as black tea and oolong tea, health practitioners do not recommend them to everyone. However, since Barley doesn’t have these, pregnant women and even elderly people can consume this on a daily basis.
Unlike before, it’s now more common to use tea bags in making Barley tea. During the early times, people boil cereal grains to make tea. However, it’s time-consuming so with innovations, crushed grains in tea bags are now popular. Since people became busier, even convenience stores and supermarkets now sell it in plastic bottles and paper packs. But, the art and culture of drinking this healthy drink remain.
What are the different types of Mugicha?
While it may be surprising for some, there are actually different kinds of Barley tea. But, we listed the top three most commonly used types.
The first one is mostly used as raw material for Barley tea. It is often characterized as rich in protein and low in starch. Thus, it makes you enjoy the flavor and moderate aroma of the tea.
Locals also call it Kamairi. It’s the fragrant variant that they are able to achieve by traditional roasting two-rowed barley.
Although it’s a plant of the gramineous family, Hatomugi is still called Barley. It’s a refreshing drink which is perfect during the summer season.
What is the history of Barley Tea?
Many people believe that the origin of Barley tea began during the Heian period. Hearsay is that the warlords and even the nobles love to drink it. However, it is only during the Edo period that stores introduced it to townsmen. Mugiyu shops which are almost similar to modern coffee shops sold this to townspeople and made it a common drink for everyone.
Meanwhile, some people sit on benches and line up lanterns with the words “mugiyu” written on them. It was also at this time when the number of people drinking it with sugar increased. Since they usually harvest barley in the summertime, it became a famous summer drink that everyone enjoyed. The roasted aroma is so enticing that even younger people love it.
Is Barley tea healthy?
Generally speaking, Barley tea is healthy. As a matter of fact, it is very common to use to treat diarrhea and inflammation in traditional Chinese medicine.
Because it’s rich in potassium, it’s good for lowering blood pressure. It has a diuretic effect which helps discharge heat through urine. In addition, it prevents summer fatigue by lowering the body temperature as well.
Drinking Barley tea on a regular basis also increases metabolism and activates gastrointestinal movements. Thus, making it relieve constipation and even diarrhea.
Barley tea also has antioxidant properties due to the polyphenols in it. Although it has a milder antioxidant than green tea, it’s still as effective in fighting free radical damage. It also has zinc which is a famous “beauty mineral” by reducing oil production and clearing acne-causing bacteria.
Barley tea FAQs
- Is it okay to drink Barley tea every day?
Indeed, it’s fine to drink it every day as it’s generally safe for everyone. However, moderation is still advised.
- How to serve Mugicha?
It can be served hot or with ice. Also, it can be served as is or sweetened.
- Who should not drink Mugicha?
People who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease must not drink Barley tea.
- Is Barley tea and Mugicha the same?
Barley tea is called Mugicha in Japan. Indeed, it’s the same.
Barley tea Recipe
Making Barley tea at home is easy as 1, 2, 3. In fact, it’s so easy that you can do this every single day. We listed below the three ways how to make your own Barley tea at home.
|Good for 2 persons
|Mugicha tea bags
|Barley tea grains (for boiling)
|honey or sugar (optional)
Hot water brew
In this method, you can make the brewing time longer depending on your preference. However, please take note that it may cause the bitter taste to increase.
Cold water brew
If you think that cold brew is not enough to bring out the taste and aroma of barley, then you’re wrong. It’s, in fact, the easiest way to prepare Barley tea without worrying about its bitter taste.
They recommend using grains instead of tea bags when boiling Barley tea. While this method may be a little time-consuming, it’s actually the best option to enjoy the flavor and aroma of the tea.
Where to buy Barley tea?
Mugicha is available both in physical and online stores. In fact, it’s quite easy to find as many shops are selling it in different containers. Here are some of the stores where you can find Barley tea.
Takejiro Ogawa, the founder of this company, established Ogawa Sangyo back in 1908. He wanted to make his father proud whom he lost during the war. In addition to that, this is the legacy that he wanted to pass down to generations.
Ogawa Sangyo’s signature Barley tea is well-known not just in Japan, but overseas as well. Its name, Tsubumaru, came from the method of preparing the barley grains without crushing them. Hence, they are able to preserve the delicate taste of the tea.
The company sells Tsubumaru both in their factory and online too.
Lupicia is arguably the biggest tea house in Japan. Aside from different types of tea, they also have sake and Japanese confectioneries. They are is particularly famous for their Japanese Green Tea Blend which they also sell abroad along with other flavors.
Meanwhile, Lupicia’s Barley tea comes in different variants as well. For example, they sell pineapple, plum, apricot, and watermelon flavors. While they are extremely popular in Japan, they are also one of the well-known Japanese tea brands worldwide.
Isetan Shinjuku Store (伊勢丹 新宿店)
It was in 1940 when Kawahara started manufacturingMugicha or Barley tea in Nerima, Tokyo. Since the area is mostly agricultural, it was easier to find fields and vegetable stands.
The company established the Tokyo Mugicha Series in 2017 which provides specialty Barley tea. In addition to that, their Mugicha is known for its “deep flavor”. Since they are using a sand oven to roast the grains, it adds to the earthy and deep flavor of the tea.
Currently, Kawahara Barley tea is available in some stores including Isetan Shinjuku Store. Isetan is a huge department store that sells different products in the heart of Shinjuku.
Buying Barley tea from Japan
You can also order Mugicha directly from Japan. For as low as 927 yen, you can enjoy your own tea in the comfort of your home. In addition to that, you can also take advantage of free shipping promotions. Check out Rakuten site for more information.
How to buy Mugicha from Japan
If you’re currently outside Japan, here’s an easy way to purchase Barley tea online. Rakuten made it even more convenient to purchase different items including Mugicha directly from Japan.
First of all, create an account in Rakuten Global Express and get your personal address in Japan. It needs a personal address in Japan and you can get it by signing up.
Buy items from different e-commerce shops in Japan. Find the best prices for your preferred Barley Tea among this wide range of varieties.
Then, you’ll get to choose how you want your items to be packed and shipped. Use the Japanese personal address that was generated when you signed up.
Your items will be delivered right to your doorstep. And you can also track your package by visiting the “My Page” section of Rakuten Global Express site.
Barley Tea or popularly known as Muchiga in Japan, is a caffeine-free tea that is made from roasted barley grains. It’s proven to have many health benefits and is a favorite refreshment during the summer season.
If you love tea, check out other traditional Japanese tea variants below.