Only second to water, tea is the most consumed beverage on the planet. In fact, people have been drinking tea since ancient times to combat illness and disease; barley tea is no exception. While the taste and aroma draw attention, it is the barley tea benefits that have people turning to a cup of the tea.
The barley plant was first discovered in Southeast Asia and Ethiopia where it was used as food and as feed for animals. It is believed the grain was used to make wine as early as 2800 B.C. It became the main bread ingredient for the ancient Greeks, who believed it was the barley that gave them strength. From this, gladiators were referred to as hordearii, or eaters of barley. The Chinese culture looked to barley as a symbol of virility.
After the Europeans began using the grain for bread making, it was introduced to South America in the 16th century by the Spanish. It was eventually brought to the United States in the 17th century by the English and Dutch. There are several forms of barley found today, such as hulled barley, pearl barley, pot/scotch barley, barley flakes, and barley grits. It is the hulled barley and pearl barley that are seen on store shelves.
Made from the cereal grain barley, barley tea has been found for centuries in homes and shops in Asia, and in more recent years, in the western hemisphere. It is also used in North America as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. In Japan, mugicha is normally served as a cool drink whereas, in China, maicha is served warm in the summer and cool in the winter. Korea also serves it year-round and is known as boricha.
Uses of Barley
As one of the top grains produced today, barley is used for more than just cereal and processing beer. Barley is also known to be used to treat boils when applied directly to the skin. When consumed as roasted barley tea, a wide variety of common ailments can be treated. Although there is more scientific research to be done on how and why certain treatments occur, barley does have vitamins and minerals such as fiber, magnesium, vitamin B1, and vitamin B3.
In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published findings on a study that the fiber in barley helped with lowering cholesterol levels in a group of men and women, all of who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol.
Health Benefits of Barley Tea
- The barley grain contains phytonutrients that may help prevent certain types of cancers.
- It regulates blood sugar levels by cleansing the blood for a better flow throughout the body. Good circulation of the bloodstream is key to good health.
- Barley itself helps with congestion and phlegm brought on by colds, asthma, and bronchitis with its cleansing power.
- It can treat constipation and keep bowel movements regular as it detoxifies the intestines.
- The tea works as a digestive aid, resulting in complete digestion by reducing acidity, gas, and bloating.
- Barley is filled with antioxidants; it treats fever symptoms and helps to prevent infections.
- It can help reduce inflammation and treat cardiovascular problems.
- Barley tea eases the feeling of nausea and helps lessen migraines and tension headaches.
- It works as an antibacterial in the mouth to fight tooth decay and other oral health issues.
- With its bacterial-fighting agents, barley treats bacterial infections in the stomach.
- It eases stress, tension, and anxiety by relaxing the brain muscles.
- Warm barley tea encourages better sleep patterns with its components of amino acids, tryptophan, and melatonin. The fact that it is caffeine-free helps many as well.
- Barley contains selenium, which helps in the male reproduction role and helps to maintain a healthy prostate.
The effects of some of these health benefits can also be used to promote weight loss. As a daily cup of barley tea helps with digestion issues, easing stress, and detoxifying the body, some people may see their weight decrease. These issues, as well as sleep deviation, have been known to cause people to gain weight. Barley tea reverses these potential problems. In addition, a cup of barley tea has no sugar.
As barley is a grain, it can cause health issues for some people such as those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels very closely and refer to their physician in regards to their medications, as barley may lower their blood sugar levels. Furthermore, those undergoing surgery may want to stop consuming barley at least two weeks before their surgery date to avoid issues with blood levels during the procedure.
Make Barley Tea at Home
To make your own barley tea, place two to three tablespoons of the grain in four cups of boiling water. Leave the mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes before straining the kernels. If you wish to drink it cold, place the mixture in the fridge to chill or combine the grain kernels in a pitcher of cold water to soak overnight.
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