Barley water

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Barley water is a traditional herbal tea in various parts of the world. Drinking boiled grain in water, strained or not, is an ancient practice.


  • Kykeon (Gr. κυκεών, from κυκάω, "to stir, to mix") was an Ancient Greek drink made mainly of water, barley and naturally occurring substances. It was used at the climax of the Eleusinian Mysteries to break a sacred fast, but it was also a favourite drink of Greek peasants.
  • British: this version is made by boiling washed pearl barley, straining, then pouring the hot water over the rind and/or pulp of a lemon, and adding fruit juice and sugar to taste. The rind may also be boiled with the barley.
  • East and Southeast Asian versions are typically not strained and may be drunk hot or cold, with or without lime. Hot barley water is often served with a spoon and cold barley water with a straw so that the soft boiled grains can be eaten.
    • Roasted barley tea is also a popular East Asian drink, but the taste and texture are very different from barley water.
  • It is also a popular drink among Punjabi peasants. It is called 'sattu' in Punjabi.

Barley water has been used as a first baby food, before feeding with barley mush. It is also used as a home remedy for cystitis.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The Labour politician Josiah Wedgwood is said to have staged a filibuster in Parliament, sustaining himself with barley water and chocolate, in 1913.[2]

In the Tortall books of Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper asks for barley water or raspberry twilsey (fruit vinegar in water) in bars instead of alcoholic drinks.

In the Disney Film Mary Poppins, the song The Perfect Nanny contains the line "Love us as a son and daughter, and never smell of barley water."[3]

Barley water is frequently referenced in the Jeeves and Wooster series of novels by P.G. Wodehouse, often in contrast to intoxicating liquors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cystitis", Nursing practice: hospital and home : the adult 
  2. ^ Mathew Thomson, The problem of mental deficiency 
  3. ^