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Jan 24, 2008 07:59 AM

Cold Barley Tea: How common is it across cultures?

I went to a Mexican Juice, shake, and fruit bar the other day and noticed that one of their Agua Fresca offerings was Cebada. This is barley in English.

It reminded me of the cold tea that I was given with meals while working at Korean and Japanese operated restaurants during the summer. I believe it is called "Bori-cha."

How common is drinking this cold wheat based drink around the world? Apparently the Central American countries have this as well.

Where did it start -- the Romans?

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  1. It's big in Chinese / Taiwanese culture, too. (Not the roasted barley tea common in Korean cuisine, but just the liquid you get from boiling barley.) It's delicious warm or cold, and sweetened with just a little bit of sugar. And it's purportedly good for your skin.

    You might find this link interesting. It's not about barley tea per se, but about cross-cultural barley consumption through the ages:

    2 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      I have cold Chinese barley tea frequently during the summer.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I bet you have great skin! :)
        I have it a lot all year round. Try it warm while it's still cold out. Better 'n' hot cocoa.

    2. Although faintly possible, why the Romans? Barley was domesticated in what is now Israel - Jordan, and spread to the Himalayas where it is still a major crop with many uses.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        You tell me? I had a faint recollection of the romans making quite a bit of use of the crop for food - pre 1492 polenta, along with millet etc. I thought it was plausible. Sorry for my ignorance.

        I might ask you how long have they been making rice into a drink a la mexican horchata?

        1. re: kare_raisu

          People all over the world have been making refreshing horchata type drinks forever. Making drinks out of staple crops, however, is closely tied to making beer--chicha from maize has a sweet counterpart; traditional beers from millet, sorghum, barley, rice, coconut, and other crops have their unfermented refresco versions.