Barley Tea

I recently have been reading the book Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Pachinko is a New York times best seller about a South Korean family in the 20th century. My sister is adopted from Korean and is interested in learning more about the culture she came from. For christmas I got her this book and we decided to research the history, cultural details , and food mentioned in the writing together. The first food we tried was barley tea. This drink is nutty, earthy, and sweet followed by a slightly bitter but not off putting after taste. I added fresh ginger, honey, and limon to enhance the flavor and health benefits.

It is important to note that barely does contain gluten! This beverage should not be consumed by anyone with gluten sensitivity. Gluten can be inflammatory if people with a sensitivity to it. If you are just starting the endometriosis diet it is advisable to completely remove gluten, along with other common, potentially inflammatory foods for a period of time. After your body has time to heal and reset you can try different foods one at a time. As you add foods back you can see how they affect you and determine what foods need to be gone for good. I did this and found I am sensitive to refined sugar, dairy, and to a lesser extent red meats. Gluten does not seem to bother me. We are all different so get to know your own body and what diet is best for your health.

If you are like me and can consume gluten without repercussions barley tea can serve as an antioxidant, a sleep aid, improve blood fluidity1, help alleviate UTIs, cold symptoms, GI upset, hot flashes and achieve a more restful sleep. For more details about each of these benefits keep reading!


Barley tea and honey have multiple Anti-Oxidative compounds that can prevent cellular damage from free radicals2. I think most of you have probably heard of antioxidants and free radicals so I am gonna leave it at that. Maybe I will get into what exactly those two things are at a later date.

Improves Blood Fluidity/Cools Your Hot Flashes

Barley is a “yin” or cooling food. Why? Well It has been shown to improve blood fluidity. More fluid blood has been shown to cool your body more effectively.  What does  improved blood fluidity mean? Well here is my best attempt and describing it. For many years in western medicine the only driving force of blood was thought to be cardiac pressure. However, more recently studies have been conducted on the hydrodynamics of blood. Simply put that means the motion of blood. Changes in the composition of plasma (fluid part of blood) and cells (solids in blood)  affect its motion or “fluidity”. These affects change blood’s ability to permeate (fill and flow through) tissues around the body. This is a concept widely used in oriental medicine. In oriental medicine blood with poor fluidity is referred to as “Oketsu (yuxie)” meaning stagnant blood preceding a state of sickness. In western medicine this is a fairly new concept but a solid, research backed foundation of understanding in this area is beginning to be laid out. Micro channel array flow analyzers (pictured below) have been used to collect data on blood viscosity and vascular pressure. It has been found that increases in lipid levels, inflammatory materials, and cytokines (all linked to chronic inflammatory conditions like endometriosis) cause poor blood fluidity. Poor blood fluidity has been proven to lead to increased death of circulatory cells, high blood pressure, thrombosis, and oxidative stress. Oriental medicine practitioners strongly believe poor blood fluidity can lead to  menstruation problems, easy or persistent bruising, poor circulation, constipation, hemorrhoids, and more. Many medications used in western medicine and the typical “western diet” have been linked to poor blood fluidity. More research is needed in these areas but there seems to be a good rationale to do what we can to balance our blood fluidity. Some symptoms linked to poor blood fluidity include dark circles under the eyes, darkened tongue color, recurring or intense facial blushing, and widespread joint pain. Bellow are some pictures showing blood with good fluidity (A) and blood with poor fluidity (B) in a Micro channel array flow analyzer3.

Microsoft PowerPoint - jams_166_JAMS-166-figure_edited
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
Volume 7, Issue 4, August 2014, Pages 180-185

Helps with the common cold

Barley is high in vitamins and minerals including vit. C, commonly known to help fight off a cold. Honey and lemon helps soothe a sore throat.

Alleviates GI upset

Barley is high in insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is not absorbed in the GI tract and helps add bulk to your stool allowing you body to pass other waste products through more efficiently. Ginger is also calming to the digestive tract and helps alleviate nausea. 

Aids in treating UTI’s

Barley tea is a diuretic meaning, in short, it help push fluid through your kidneys and out of your urinary tract. The more fluids you can get flowing through you urinary tract when you have a UTI the faster the irritating bacteria will be flushed out of your system.

Helps with sleep

Barley tea contains low levels melatonin and Gaba hormones. These are two hormones aid in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. There is controversy about the side effects of taking high, concentrated doses of either of these sleep hormones but low doses from food sources can be just enough to help your body drift off naturally.

Helps with fertility

This one is for anyone TTC. Barley is rich in selenium. Increased levels of selenium have been linked to both healthy ovarian follicles and improved sperm production4.

Who shouldn’t drink this tea?

*Anyone with a gluten sensitivity should avoid any food product made with barley. Barley has also been shown to decrease lactation and should be consumed by those who are or whom are intending to breastfeed in the near future.*

Barley Tea

A drink that can boost your immune system, help with UTIs, cool down your hot flashes, help you sleep better, and improve you overall health. (not for persons who are gluten sensitive or lactating) 

Course Drinks
Cuisine Korean
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 7 kcal


  • .5 Cup Barley I used Red Mill
  • 3 Qts. Water
  • 1 Whole Limon Juiced
  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger Minced
  • 3 tbsp local Honey Raw


  1. Add water and coarsely chopped ginger to large stock pot and bring to a boil

  2. While water is heating toast your barley. Simply place barley in a pan over medium/low until lightly browned and fragrant. 

  3. Once toasted poor barley into boiling water. Reduce to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 

  4. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and honey.

  5. Pour through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth serve warm or allow to cool in the fridge. I prefered this drink cold.


1Suganuma, Hiroyuki, et al. “Amelioratory Effect of Barley Tea Drinking on Blood Fluidity.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, vol. 48, no. 2, 2002, pp. 165–168., doi:10.3177/jnsv.48.165.
2Etoh, Hideo, et al. “Anti-Oxidative Compounds in Barley Tea.” Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 68, no. 12, 2004, pp. 2616–2618., doi:10.1271/bbb.68.2616.
3Hisamitsu, Tadashi, and Shintaro Ishikawa. “Changes in Blood Fluidity Caused by Electroacupuncture Stimulation.” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, vol. 7, no. 4, 2014, pp. 180–185., doi:10.1016/j.jams.2014.04.008.
4M. J. Ceko, K. Hummitzsch, N. Hatzirodos, W. M. Bonner, J. B. Aitken, D. L. Russell, M. Lane, R. J. Rodgers, H. H. Harris. X-Ray fluorescence imaging and other analyses identify selenium and GPX1 as important in female reproductive functionMetallomics, 2014; DOI: 10.1039/C4MT00228H

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