Barley Tea

This is a recipe shared to me in the summer by a friend of mine. I had never heard of using barley in a drink before this. Upon some later research, I found that barley tea is actually a popular beverage in Japan and Korea. However, whilst these traditional recipes seem to use mostly whole grains of barley, this recipe here uses ground barley which is lightly toasted to give a nutty taste. My friend served me this tea with some ground whole cardamom and I also like to add some cardamom which gives the drink a masala chai taste.

The East Asian version of roasted barley tea is said to have numerous health benfits, from helping with digestion and detoxification to aiding blood circulation. However, the inspiration for this drink comes from Muslim Prophetic Tradition where it is known as Talbina. As opposed to barley water, which is cooked with whole barley, talbina is made with ground barley. I bought ground barley flour, however you can mill your own at home. You can buy barley flour online from Health Means Wealth or Simply Hijama.

The Muslim Scholar, Ibn al Qayyim, wrote that talbina brings “relaxation for the heart of the sick person,” and is recommended for the person suffering from grief or sadness. This is taken directly from authentic narrations from the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, where he stated, “The talbina gives rest to the heart of the patient and makes it active and relieves some of his sorrow and grief.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (5325)].

But numerous health benefits aside, this barley tea with its distinctive nutty taste is warming and soothing. The addition of the cardamom and cinnamon adds a pleasant fragrance as well. I used ground spices for this recipe just out of laziness, but you can use whole spices if that is all you have to hand. It only takes a few minutes to whip up and is a great treat for lovers of herbal and non-caffeinated teas. 

Barley Tea

Serves 1-2

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cooking Time: 5-10  minutes

by Abida at The Red Lychee


2-3 tablespoons ground barley flour
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (or 3 cardamoms slightly split)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
About 3 glasses of water.


1) Place a dry pan on the stove on a medium heat. Add barley flour and allow to lightly toast. Use a spoon to stir to stop the flour from catching. It should take a few minutes for the flour to toast. It should darken a few shades until it resembles the colour of sand.

2) Add in the spices and stir.

3) If using ground spices, allow a few seconds for the spices to cook off. Then add water. Stir to get rid of lumps.

4) Allow to simmer to a boil on a medium to high heat. Once you have ensured that lumps have disappeared, remove from the heat.

5) Strain and serve with honey or sweetener of your choice.

2 thoughts on “Barley Tea

  1. Talbina is so versatile! I've seen even recipes to use in smoothies. I've had it a few times for breakfast with milk and its consistency is similar to porridge. Because you add more of the flour, the mixture becomes thick like porridge. Whereas with this tea, it is only a few tablespoons of flour with more water so it is thin. Do try it out if you have a bag of talbina flour sitting around the house, it is very quick and easy to make!

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