Saturday, 18 June 2011


When you think of summer drinks, what pops into your mind?  In Japan, most people would probably answer mugicha.  This summer will be my 4th in Japan, and it's hard for me to imagine a summer without a jug of mugicha chilling in my fridge!

Mugicha (麦茶) is a tea to made from roasted barley.  As it doesn't contain leaves from the tea plant, it's technically a tisane, and contains no caffeine.  I'm not sure about bachelors, cause I used to teach adult students who told me they literally had nothing in their fridges but beer (they ate all meals at restaurants or bought them from convenience stores), but I'm pretty sure just about all families always have a jug of mugicha going.  Being caffeine free, it's a staple drink for kids in this country.  Japanese people don't seem to drink a lot of water, but they are big on their teas!

This cooling summer drink is tasty in kind of an earthy way, and fantastically cheap.  A pack of 54 large teabags (each makes a kettle full of tea) costs about 300¥ (less than $4).

Another great thing about mugicha is that it is calorie free.  I think that liquid calorie overconsumption is one of the things that the North American diet typically does wrong, and the lack thereof in the traditional Japanese diet is one of the things that they got right over here.  So you can drink all the mugicha you want, and save your calories for the things you really want to be savoring, like scones.

I'm sure you can buy yourself some mugicha in a Japanese grocery store like Fujiya in Vancouver, but how  about a regular grocery store?  Take a peek for me next time you are shopping.  So go hunt for some, brew up a pot, serve over ice, and let me know what you think!

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