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Barley tea (mugicha)


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#1 Hiroyuki

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 12:23 AM

Although barley tea is regarded as a summer beverage by many Japanese, I drink it regularly all year round, after a bath.

Barley tea is the oldest tea in Japan. It contains no caffein, so even children can drink it. And it contains starch, so it goes bad rather quickly in hot weather.

Have you ever drunk barley tea?

#2 Hiroyuki

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 12:52 AM

For those who are not familiar with barley tea:
http://www.healthygo...gichacatal.html
http://www.basedonat...barley_tea.html

#3 Pan

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 01:01 AM

I drink barley tea often in Korean restaurants. Yesterday, I went to a ramen place in New York that served barley tea that had a much stronger roasted flavor that made me think at first that it was coffee!

#4 lorea

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 02:42 AM

I always drink it in Korean restaurants too, but I have to confess that I don't really like it - it tastes like burned rice to me (this is at all restaurants, not just one particular one). Does anybody else taste this? Or is it just me? What is it supposed to taste like?

#5 torakris

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 03:27 PM

I love barley tea, it was an acquired taste though and it took me quite a while to really enjoy it.
I too drink it all year round, though it does taste extra refreshing on a hot summer day. The strength can vary depending on what method is used and how long it is brewed, I prefer it on the strong side.
At a lot of the Korean restaurants in Japan I would be served what I thought was a strongly brewed mugicha but it turns out it wasn't mugi (barley) at all, rather it was roasted corn tea (called oksusu-cha in Korean). This is now one of my favoite teas andi actually make it more than mugicha now....

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#6 Jason Perlow

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 03:29 PM

I've had Korean barley tea (Boricha) in both hot and cold form -- and I actually perfer it cold.
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#7 petite tête de chou

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 04:10 PM

I have a bag of barley in my cupboard. Could I roast it and use it to make this tea? It sounds wonderful!
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
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#8 helenjp

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 04:24 PM

bag of barley in my cupboard. Could I roast it and use it


Actually barley seems to roasted in the husk (not the full husk, as far as I can tell).

You'd get a mugicha-ish taste if you roasted hulled barley, but probably weakish.

I've often thought that mugicha probably tastes like the numerous roasted cereals used as coffee substitutes during WWII!

I used to make mine from loose roasted barley, but it got to be a problem dealing with the dregs from 6-8 liters of barley tea per day, so now I use mugicha teabags.

Son1 went off to school this morning with a thermos full of chilled mugicha - several years ago, there were scandals about the quality of school water. Instead of doing anything about it, most schools simply averted responsibility by requiring kids to bring a drink bottle...

#9 Hiroyuki

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 01:51 AM

I have a bag of barley in my cupboard. Could I roast it and use it to make this tea? It sounds wonderful!

I searched for information about roasting barley, but sorry to say, I could not find any useful information. If you know how to roast coffee beans, that may be of some help to you.

I like mine weak. According to the manufacturer's instructions, one teabag makes 1 liter of barley tea, but I make 2 liters from one bag.

#10 petite tête de chou

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 06:07 AM

Thank you Helen and Shiozawa for your replies. I think that I will try roasting them like a coffee bean (as suggested) but then? Boil in water for 5 minutes? Maybe a low simmer for another 5-10 minutes and strain? I think that I would prefer to drink it iced. I will add that I love strong, black coffees and willfull teas so my palate is a receptive one. :smile:
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
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#11 helenjp

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 06:15 AM

Usually you bring the roasted barley and the water to the boil, and then turn off. Some people strain the hulls out quite early, but I usually allow the whole thing to cool before straining.

How much barley to how much water...err...maybe 1/2 cup per liter of water??

#12 petite tête de chou

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 06:32 AM

I think its a great idea to allow the tea to cool before straining. It seems like that would intensify the flavor. I wonder if a fine seive would suffice or should I line it with cheesecloth? Either way, its barley tea tonight!
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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#13 Hiroyuki

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 06:56 AM

According to this site (sorry, Japanese only), 40 to 50 g of barley should be enough for 2 liters of water.
http://www.sanei-web...m/file-m04.html

I hope you succeed!

#14 petite tête de chou

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:03 AM

Pictures of the tea(s) help give me an idea of the coloration I can expect to see. Ive seen the lighter colored teas as well as brews that look like weak coffee. I am imagining that this has something to do with the length of the roasting process as well as steeping time.
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
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#15 helenjp

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:06 AM

The color of the tea also has to do with the variety of barley used, as well as the roast!

Generally a lighter roast is higher class (because a darker roast produces more tea per unit of barley), but also hato-mugicha, made from Job's Tears, produces a much lighter mugicha. Nice, but expensive...

#16 petite tête de chou

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:27 AM

Although barley tea is regarded as a summer beverage by many Japanese, I drink it regularly all year round, after a bath.

Barley tea is the oldest tea in Japan. It contains no caffein, so even children can drink it. And it contains starch, so it goes bad rather quickly in hot weather.

Have you ever drunk barley tea?

If the tea contains starch should I expect some viscosity? Also, is there a preferred/traditional sweetener? Although I usually prefer my teas unsweetened I would like to try my reasonable-facsimile-to-barley-tea in as many ways as possible.
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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#17 helenjp

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:38 AM

It's never sweetened!

Viscosity -- not noticeable. Maybe there is some, but you'd need instruments to measure for it.

It's such a standard that nobody seems to play around with the taste -- except for using it in blends with other Chinese/Japanese herbal teas, where it helps cover up less palatable tastes!

#18 petite tête de chou

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:48 AM

Excellent! Thanks again, Helen. Im excited to get a whiff of the barley while it roasts...it will be a new one for me.
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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#19 Hiroyuki

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 03:20 PM

Like Helen said, it's not viscous. But when it goes bad, it is!

Some people add sugar and others add salt! I've never add either myself.
http://oshiete1.goo....u.php3?q=902482
(Japanese only. It's for those who read Japanese.)
By the way, many Japanese sprinckle some salt to watermelons when they eat. Salt is believed to accentuate sweetness.
Some say you can make a drink similar to "coffee milk" (coffee gyunyu in Japanese) by mixing barley tea and milk together.

You can make barley tea jelly:
http://cookpad.com/a...01324&Mode=full
(Japanese only)

Edited by Hiroyuki, 01 July 2004 - 03:41 PM.


#20 helenjp

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 05:05 AM

Some people add sugar and others add salt!


Hiroyuki, I'm shocked! I'm actually more shocked by that than by the idea of making a hole in an anpan and squeezing mayonnaise into it, but that's a whole nother story.

I'm really here to say that, just for you petite tete de chou, I bought some loose mugicha. Here's a cup of it waiting to go into about 2 liters of boiling water.
Posted Image

According to the packet, I'm to let it boil 3 mins, turn off, stand 30 mins, strain and chill.

At the shop I also saw a VERY dark roast of mugicha called "Black Gold".

But actually, I'm looking forward to getting my roasted buckwheat out and making soba-cha!

#21 Hiroyuki

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 07:14 AM

Some people add sugar and others add salt!


I'm actually more shocked by that than by the idea of making a hole in an anpan and squeezing mayonnaise into it, but that's a whole nother story.

What you don't drink can't hurt you. :laugh:

One of the biggest advantages of barley tea is its low cost. In Japan, a pack of 50 bags is available at around 200 yen, which translates into 4 yen a pack, which makes 1 liter of barley tea. Does anyone know of any cheaper tea?

#22 petite tête de chou

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 04:47 AM

Some people add sugar and others add salt!


Hiroyuki, I'm shocked! I'm actually more shocked by that than by the idea of making a hole in an anpan and squeezing mayonnaise into it, but that's a whole nother story.

I'm really here to say that, just for you petite tete de chou, I bought some loose mugicha. Here's a cup of it waiting to go into about 2 liters of boiling water.
Posted Image

According to the packet, I'm to let it boil 3 mins, turn off, stand 30 mins, strain and chill.

At the shop I also saw a VERY dark roast of mugicha called "Black Gold".

But actually, I'm looking forward to getting my roasted buckwheat out and making soba-cha!

Okey-doke. After roasting my barley the color was very similar to your mugicha. I boiled mine for a bit less than five minutes and soaked it for forty-five minutes. I went a bit longer on the times with the hope that I might acheive a good dose of that roasted barley flavor. I certainly did that! Husband complained during the roasting process- "Cant you do that outside?" :wacko: The smell was less intense than roasting coffee. Less of the "burnt" scent. Nice, to my nostrils, at least.
After straining through cheesecloth (wanted a clear-as-possible tea) the color was lighter than weak coffee and a black tea. It had QUITE the toasty aroma and a lingering but mild bitterness. It seems nearly fortifying? Next time I will purchase the real deal and see how the tastes compare. BTY- no sweetener and no salt...oh lord, no salt.
Shelley: Would you like some pie?
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#23 alejita

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 04:26 PM

HI all,

Is there a difference between the Korean and the Japanese barley tea? I've enjoyed Japanese barley tea at a favorite sushi restaurant in Manhattan YEARS ago, and have not been able to make it properly at home (although with these pointers I'm going to try again); I can easily buy Korean barley tea in bags, is it similar?

#24 helenjp

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 04:44 PM

Well congratulation petite tete de chou! Sounds as if the color is right. I wouldn't expect it to be very dark if you were roasting hulled barley.

Alejita, I don't know if Korean and Japanese mugicha are exactly the same, Torakris would know better, but I'm sure they're pretty close.

#25 Hiroyuki

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 07:36 PM

This is the barley tea that I made this morning. I use a wide-mouthed kettle specifically for making barely tea because it's very easy to wash out. If I want to let the tea cool quickly, I put the kettle in a tub full of water, as shown in the photo.
Note that the tea is half as strong as the one made according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The second photo shows what's inside the teabag after use, together with a bag before use (sorry about the photo; I'm not a good photographer).
Posted Image

Posted Image

I can't answer alejita's question. torakris, could you answer that question?

#26 Hiroyuki

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 09:11 PM

I always drink it in Korean restaurants too, but I have to confess that I don't really like it - it tastes like burned rice to me (this is at all restaurants, not just one particular one).  Does anybody else taste this? Or is it just me?  What is it supposed to taste like?

I forgot to respond to this.

I think that if you dilute your barley tea with water (I wonder if you can do this at a restaurant, though), it won't taste like that.

I have something to confess - I often dilute kou-rui shouchu (pure, odorless distilled spirit) with barley tea. This, I think, is one of the cheapest way to get drunk - 50 yen per 300-ml cup. Don't call me stingy. :biggrin:

#27 torakris

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 03:09 PM

I also have no clue about differeences in barley in Japan and Korea. Many of the "Korean" restaurants serve it but since this is Japan, I doubt it is the Korean variety.
All of my Korean friends though make the Japanese ones and I have never heard them complaining about a difference in taste......

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#28 Kahrs

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 06:39 PM

I'm sorry, I have to reminisce... I first had Mugi-cha in Kyoto; I was staying at a an inn, and when I came back from my day (in August, so hot, so humid) and the innkeeper offered me a cold glass of Mugi-cha; on a semi-tropical day, could it be the most perfect iced-tea? On that day, I certainly thought so.

I have made it in the states --- as the previous authors have noted, it does go weird after a while. I just added lots... I bought mine in Edgewater, NJ where they also had bags. But I always prefer making a larger amount.

Now I'm thirsty.

#29 Hiroyuki

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 05:12 AM

Great post. We DO need chilled barley tea (and watermelons) to survive the hot and humid summer in Japan. It's been so hot and humid for these couple of days. The rainy season seems to have gone somewhere!

#30 alacarte

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 08:59 AM

Ito-En distributes an iced barley tea called Green Genmai.