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Roasted barley tea is a caffeine-free, roasted-grain-based infusion made from barley, which is popular in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. It is also used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute in American cuisine. Barley water is a popular traditional soft drink in Britain.
Roasted barley tea is called mugicha (麦茶) in Japanese, dàmàichá (大麦茶) ormàichá (麦茶 or 麥茶) in Mandarin Chinese, and boricha (보리차) in Korean. While the tea is generally regarded as a cooling summer beverage in Japan, it is served year-round, hot in winter and cold in summer, in Korea. Originally, roasted barley seeds were stewed in hot water (this is still the method generally used in Korea), but tea bags containing ground barley became more popular during the early 1980s; this is now the norm in Japan. It can be found from many different distributors in vending machines all over Japan.
In Korea, roasted unhulled barley is used to prepare the tea. Often the barley is combined with oksusu cha (roasted corn), as the corn's sweetness offsets the slightly bitter flavor of the barley. A similar drink, made from roasted brown rice, is called hyeonmi cha or genmaicha (with green tea added).
Roasted barley tea, sold in ground form and sometimes combined with chicory or other ingredients, is also sold as a coffee substitute.