“Mugicha”, a summer drink in Japan

Cold mugicha (barley tea) is a popular summer drink after taking a bath or after exercising. I will introduce it’s differences from green tea, and the history and effects of Mugicha.

2017-04-21   Culture, Seasonal,

title_mugicha


【CONTENTS】
What are the differences between mugicha and other teas?
From parched-barley tea to barley tea. The change to a summer drink.
The effects of Mugicha: Why we should drink it during summer.
Taste mugicha to see if you like it!

Green tea
Green tea

What are the differences between mugicha and other teas?

Mugicha has a mild and refreshing flavor.
Mugicha is brown, whereas green tea is green.
There are other brown teas such as roasted tea, oolong tea, and black tea, all of which Japanese people drink regularly. Mugicha tea is completely different.

Tea is made from the leaves of a tea plat. There are 2 kinds of tea leaves, leaves from plants cultivated in Japan and China, and the Assam tea plant found in the Assam region of India.
Green tea, oolong tea, roasted tea, and black tea are made from the leaves of a tea plant.
The color, taste, and type, vary depending on the fermentation of the leaves.

Mugicha (barley tea) is made by roasting barley seeds.

Barley
Barley

From parched-barley tea to barley tea. The change to a summer drink.

The origins of Mugicha are derived from Mugi-kogashi (dried barley flour), and was parched barley flour and sugar dissolved in hot water during the Heian era (794-1185).
During the Japanese civil war era, military commanders would drink it. They drank it not only as a tea using hot water, but also as an alcoholic beverage (mixed with alcohol), like unrefined sake. 

Parched-barley became popular among the common class of people during the late Edo period (1603-1868), and Parched-barley tea shops started to open. They replaced cafés that served coffee during the Meiji era (1868-1912), and parched-barley tea was also more commonly enjoyed at home. It was still referred to as, “parched-barley tea”.

After refrigeration arrived in the middle 1950’s, mugicha became established as summer drink because barley is harvested during the summer. It then came to be called, Mugicha (barley tea) in 1965.

Mugicha

The effects of Mugicha: Why we should drink it during summer.

Barley has a cooling effect on the body. Drinking large amounts of water when you are extremely hot or exhausted can be dangerous. Drinking mugicha will replenish the body of deprived nutrients, protects the mucous membrane of the stomach, prevents lifestyle-related disease, prevents tooth decay, and stimulates blood circulation.

麦茶を飲む子供

Unlike teas and coffee, mugicha is caffeine-free, so its good for children and women who are pregnant.

Barley tea sold in vending machines
Barley tea sold in vending machines

Taste mugicha to see if you like it!

Mugicha used to be an expensive drink. It is now much cheaper, and we can buy a bottle of cold mugicha at vending machines, convenience stores, and supermarkets. You can also buy a tea-like bag for brewing cold or hot mugicha.

If you brew your own mugicha, make sure you finish it within two days, even when keep it refrigerated, because bacteria can quickly proliferate from the barley.

You might also like

AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.