You might have had fruit and barley squash. You’ve probably had barley in beer and cereal bars. But what about straight barley tea? Mugicha, as you might know it, is a fresh and nutty infusion made with barley. Just like turmeric, acai, and other healthy food infusions, barley gets a lot of attention for being a superfood that can work health miracles. It certainly tastes very good, but is barley tea good for you?
Compared to traditional tea, barley tea also contains those nutritious antioxidants… however, it’s completely free of caffeine and contains plenty of gut-loving fibre. This makes it a very nutritional drink with some unique health benefits. Without the caffeine, it’s also going to be void of some potentially irritating side effects we associate with strong tea and coffee.
We explore 11 awesome health benefits of barley tea to find out exactly how it can help you.
What is Barley Tea?
Barley tea is actually an infusion, like an herbal infusion, fruit tea or tisane. This tea doesn’t contain any caffeine-rich tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant.
It’s made from barley, a type of grain from grass. It’s similar to wheat, which is made into many breakfast cereals and bread that you likely eat daily. But this tea doesn’t taste like bread, don’t worry!
The barley grains are harvested and then roasted. Then it’s as simple as dropping your barley tea bags or roasted barley grains into freshly boiled water. 10 minutes is ample time for the nutrients and delicious flavour to infuse.
You can drink it hot or leave it to cool for an iced tea. It has a toasty, nutty flavour with some natural sweetness and sometimes a little bitterness (if the barley has been over-roasted).
Origins of Barley Tea
Barley tea originates in Asia, specifically in Japan, Korea, and China. Across Asia, it’s still popular today and known as Boricha in Korea and Mugicha in Japan. Chinese barley tea is known as damai cha. Like traditional tea, it’s consumed daily at any time at home or at restaurants.
If you’re a fan of Japanese Kukicha, a nutty tea made from the twigs of the tea plant, you’ll enjoy Boricha as a caffeine-free alternative.
Health Benefits of Barley Tea
Before we dig into the 11 best barley tea health benefits, it’s worth knowing a little bit about what is in barley tea.
According to USDA, Barley is a good source of:
- Dietary fibre (100g contains 68% of your daily intake!)
- Vitamin B-6
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
It also contains very small but notable amounts of copper and phosphorus. Barley is rich in multiple antioxidants, including amino acids and phenol acids. Some of these are also present in traditional tea!
To get the most antioxidants from the barley grain, scientists have pinpointed the optimum roasting time that you can do at home. Use 600 W microwave power to roast a shallow plate of grains (2 grains depth) for approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
The longer you infuse your barley in water, the more these nutrients will be present in your tea.
Relieve Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Antacids work by neutralising the acid in your stomach and calming the side effects. Barley tea is a natural antacid and is great to try if you’re suffering from heartburn or acid reflux. Drinking cold barley tea will cool and soothe your stomach while relieving the pain and burning sensation.
Avoid barley milk tea, as the added milk can make your stomach produce more acid and null the effects of the soothing barley.back to menu ↑
Promote Healthy Bowel Movements
Barley, as well as other grains, contain high levels of fibre. Of course, you’d get more fibre from eating the barley rather than making tea with it, but you’ll still notice some good side effects for your bowels!
Fibre helps the food you’ve eaten move more smoothly through your bowels, improving nutrient absorption, easing irritation and cramps. It can help you if you’re constipated or wish for more regular, on-time bowel movements.back to menu ↑
Stop Stomach Cramps and Nausea
Antioxidants in barley tea and the antacid can help to ease nausea and prevent stomach cramps and stomach ulcers too.
It settles your stomach, prevents any excess stomach acid being produced and generally helps you to feel full and satisfied. Drinking it before and after meals can help you curb excess eating and soothe any stomach problems, irritability or food intolerances.
Fair warning, it can result in excess wind being produced too!back to menu ↑
Fight Off Colds and Flu
Barley tea is a good source of vitamin C. Compared to citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, and other vitamin C rich produce, the levels are low. However, if you’re vitamin C deficient or simply don’t enjoy eating fresh fruit and veg, it’s a good alternative.
Vitamin C encourages your body to produce more white blood cells, which fight infection and keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Drink hot barley tea in winter for the best results.back to menu ↑
Potentially Prevent Cancer
Toasted barley tea contains antioxidants which can bind to free radicals and deactivate them. These free radicals cause cell and DNA damage which can lead to certain types of cancer and cell mutations developing. Thus, by drinking barley tea and deactivating the harmful free radicals, you could potentially be preventing cancer.
As for curing cancer, there’s currently no evidence that barley tea or any other type of tea can cure existing cancer cases.back to menu ↑
Keep You Looking Youthful
Those same free radicals that damage DNA can also damage cell membranes. When your skin cell membranes are damaged, broken or weak, your skin can appear dull, saggy and dry as moisture can easily be drawn out of the cells.
Barley tea for skin, drunk as hot or iced barley tea or made into skincare products, can revitalise your look. Fresh, elastic and smooth skin can be achieved and you can also slow down the visual effects of aging.back to menu ↑
Improve Blood Circulation
Flavonoids found in barley tea can aid blood circulation, helping your blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries. The benefits of improved blood circulation include helping your extremities stay warm and delivering oxygen quickly and more easily to your muscles. By dilating your vessels and improving blood flow, daily exercise becomes less strenuous and tiring, while putting less strain on your heart.
A cup of barley tea a day can be very beneficial, especially if you have poor blood circulation due to smoking or lack of exercise.back to menu ↑
Reduce Risks of Heart Disease
Better blood circulation means fewer chances of blood clots and cholesterol build-up, which in turn lowers your risks of developing heart disease, atherosclerosis or having a stroke.
To make sure your veins and arteries stay clot-free, the key is to have a cup of barley tea regularly and consistently. Of course, the best way to stay healthy is to lead a balanced diet! Barley tea, made from toasted barley and not made with added sugar, is a very healthy drink and can help you cut down on sugar by switching it for carbonated soft drinks.back to menu ↑
Strengthen Healthy Teeth
The melanoidin antioxidant is only found in barley after it’s toasted – so this is a unique health benefit just for barley tea and other toasted barley foods. These antioxidants can prevent bacteria from festering on your teeth and prevent plaque build-up.
Combined with good oral hygiene, toasted barley tea is great for your teeth.back to menu ↑
Soothe Anxiety and Insomnia
In most traditional teas, it’s amino acids like l-theanine that promote calmness and soothe anxiety. But barley tea doesn’t contain any l-theanine or caffeine. Instead, it provides you with GABA amino acids as well as melatonin. The melatonin triggers neurotransmitters within your brain to help you get a restful nights sleep, while GABA inhibits neurotransmitters to prevent anxiety and stress.back to menu ↑
Boost Fertility in Men
There’s some evidence that the selenium mineral in barley can boost fertility in men. More research is needed to confirm a direct link, but scientists believe that it can aid fertility when consumed regularly by men without a vitamin E deficiency.
Side Effects of Barley Tea
There are very few side effects to drinking barley tea. The most important to note is that barley is a grain, so if you are allergic to grain or highly sensitive to gluten, avoid barley tea!
Other side effects of barley tea are only a problem for pregnant women, as barley tea can stop you from lactating and may even cause some complications. Avoid barley tea if you’re pregnant and consult your doctor if you’d like more info on what teas you can and can’t drink.
Tea Tip: if you’re pregnant, you can safely consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day according to health authorities in the UK and USA. That’s 4 cups of black tea or 7 cups of green tea. So, don’t despair!
So, Is Barley Tea Good for You?
The bottom line is yes, barley tea is good for you. Unless you plan on drinking litres and litres of it day after day, having a few cups regularly is not going to cause you any health problems. It’s much more likely that you’ll start to see some of the surprising health benefits from barley tea.
To make sure your barley tea is as healthy as possible, you can buy the barley grains and roast them yourself for the optimum antioxidant levels. Also, make sure you read the label of any barley tea bag for added sugar and other ingredients you might be allergic to, like corn for example.
Brew up a large cup of barley tea and enjoy it hot or cold this summer as a health-boosting drink.