As a historian, I’m always fascinated by old fashioned foods and drinks. I was excited to come across barley water, a beverage that has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years. It’s not as well known as coconut water or maple water, but is incredibly delicious and healing in its own way.
Barley water was the beverage of choice of peasants in ancient Greece, since preparation was simple and cheap. Known back then as kykeon, the ancient Greeks used to mix water, barley, and other ingredients such as spices or grated cheese together in order to make a healing beverage that was purported to improve digestion and heal ailments.
The Greeks weren’t the only ones who loved their barley water! In Britain, barley water was popular too and was thought to cure everything from kidney disease to fevers. There has been a long history of Wimbledon tennis players drinking chilled barley water on the courts to refresh and rehydrate their bodies, and this has helped the ancient beverage retain its popularity to this day! You can still buy bottled barley water in the refrigerated section of grocery stores there, where it’s stocked next to the soda.
Making barley water is a cinch- all you have to do is boil barley and strain the water. It’s that easy! Add a sprig of fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, and pour into a tall glass of crushed ice to turn this delicious barley water into a unique summer drink. You can also serve it as a warm healing drink in the wintertime.
Give barley water a try, I think that you will find it refreshing and comforting! It has definitely become one of my favorite drinks.
Mint Barley Water notes:
-Feel free to add orange extract for a delicious twist.
- 1 cup barley
- 6 cups water
- 5 peppermint leaves
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Simmer the barley with 6 cups of water on medium-low heat, uncovered. After about 20-25 minutes, the barley will be cooked and the amount of water in the pot will be reduced. Remove from heat.
- Strain the barley through a sieve into a large bowl in order to collect the water. Set the barley aside.
- Add the peppermint leaves to the barley water and microwave for approximately 30 seconds to infuse the mint flavor.
- Stir in lemon juice and maple syrup.