The recipe is mentioned in the third tractate of the Babylonian Talmud (42b). According to Rav Yosef b. Hiyya, it contains 1⁄3 barley, 1⁄3 safflower seed and 1⁄3 salt. Rav Papa substituted wheat for barley. The ingredients are steeped, roasted and ground before drinking.
Apart from recreational drinking, zythum was used as an ancient Egyptian medicine. It was said to work as both a laxative and antidiarrhoeal. Its use was thought dangerous for sick people and pregnant women.
- Zythos, Hellenica