I lived in Tokyo for a year and when summer came I heard people speaking dire warnings about tsuyu, the rainy season which was supposed to last about a month. How bad can it be, I thought. Little did I know. For a girl from hot, dry Idaho, the stifling heat and unbearable humidity was a horrible new experience. Then, a few years later, I moved to Houston. Houston, where about 3-4 months of the year feel exactly like tsuyu. We’re right in the middle of it right now, with 100+ degree weather and high, high humidity.
But unless you live in some magical land where it’s beautiful all summer long (oh Hawaii, I miss you), you probably have your own version of summer suffering, be it hot and humid or scorching and dry. Well, I have a secret tsuyu pro tip for you to deal with the summer heat: barley tea, a.k.a. mugicha.
It’s a dark tea with a smoky flavor that’s delicious hot or cold. My host mother kept a bottle in the refrigerator all the time during the hot weather and I still remember sitting with a cold glass sipping it to cool down. It’s the taste of surviving the summer heat.
The hardest part is finding it. I have never been able to find mugicha in an American grocery store. In Houston, we are lucky enough to have multiple Japanese grocery stores, which is where I go to get mine. Searching for “mugicha” or “barley tea” on Amazon will also get you to the right kind of thing.
Preparation is very straightforward. Mine comes in packets and you just drop one in water and let it steep until done. But, just for fun, I took a photo of the instructions on the side of my barley tea box and translated it.
So straight from the side of my box of tea to your own kitchen and endurance of summer heat…barley tea!
- Put 1 teabag in a liter of water.
- Chill in the refrigerator. When the water is cold, your delicious barley tea is ready.
- Put 1 teabag in a liter of boiling water.
- Remove from the heat after 3-5 minutes, then remove the teabag after another five minutes.
- After letting cool a little, put into a bottle for cold beverages and chill in the refrigerator. In the winter, you can also enjoy it hot.
- If you leave the teabags in for a long time, the tea will become cloudy.
© THE SPICE OF COOKING. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish a recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.