I suppose most people know about this heathy drink, and many know how to brew it in their own homes, BUT, are you aware of the time that you should brew Barley for? Let it boil for too long and it will become cloudy and lose its nutritional values, boil it for too short a time and it would not have unleashed its "powers" yet. If you're preparing to keep a container of this delicious drink in your refrigerator, read on and find out how to brew it to reap ALL the benefits of Barley.
Growing up, my mum used to brew a pot of barley at least once a week. Barley helps ease constipation and brings the body temperature down and we classify it as a type of "cooling drink" or '涼茶'. When brewed at home, it is sweetened with rock sugar, typically used in chinese-style sweet desserts. However, I find that when you have some freshly-squeezed lemon juice added into Barley, it becomes really refreshing and is just perfect for the hot summer afternoons. I remember my mother always warning us against drinking Barley at night as it would cause diarrhoea. I dispense the same advice to my children now as I too try to brew Barley for them at least once a week.
Barley drinks bought at stalls or restaurants outside tend to be cloudy and thick. I was told that that means the Barley has been brewed for far too long and is no longer 'cooling'. Barley should be brewed long enough so that the barley grains have expanded but before the mixture turns cloudy - between 15 to 20 minutes (from the time the water starts boiling) and no longer. When the fire has been turned off, the barley grains should be immediately taken out of the mixture and discarded. It really is a simple drink to brew - all you need is a timer, really. I have read numerous recipes online on how to brew barley and they usually advise brewing it for 30 minutes and up. Well, that isn't really how I was taught for the reasons mentioned above with regards to how the benefits of barley will be lost and such. In all my experiences drinking barley that has been brewed between 15-20 minutes before it turns cloudy, I find that it really does help ease constipation and soothe a sore throat and all other ailments associated with increased body heat.
Well, experts say that 2015 will be the hottest year yet and I believe any efforts to keep our bodies cool will definitely be welcome these summer months. It takes less than half an hour to brew, and only requires 4 ingredients. This Lemon Barley drink is refreshing and nutritious, and if you have kids I bet they will fall in love with it too.