No it’s not a place.
During one of my private English lessons, I was talking with my student, playing a get to know you game since he is new and I asked a question about tea. Specifically, what’s your favorite tea?
He looked at me, clearly thinking hard about it, but said “I don’t know.” I tried asking again, rephrasing it and asking a silly question, thinking he was just nervous. Finally he responded saying that he had a favorite, but didn’t know what it was called in English. I told him that was okay, tell me in Japanese.
Since I’m not allowed my phone during these sessions, I couldn’t look it up, but I nodded enthusiastically and told him that sounded really good. I wrote it down in my notebook though to look into later.
After the day ended, I stopped by my local Don Quijote to pick a few things up and remembered the tea. I wandered down the tea aisle in search of this mugicha and found a big bag of tea bags which I promptly threw in my basket. I finished my shopping, checked out, and headed home, completely forgetting to actually look up what this mugicha was.
Back in my apartment, settled in for the night, I brewed a big mug of it, completely not knowing what to expect. Taking my first hesitant sip, I realized it was a very familiar taste. I couldn’t place the actual taste, but I knew I had had it before. Google to the rescue.
Mugicha is roasted barley tea.
Of course! I had it in different restaurants along side a big bowl of steaming ramen or whatever was being served. I Just never had a name for that flavor of drink.
Mugicha is made from roasting barley and then steeping those roasted grains in hot water, the same way you’d make tea. It doesn’t taste like tea per se, but it has a nice toasted, nutty flavor that tastes good warm or iced. Better yet, because is made from grains, its naturally caffeine free!
Supposedly mugicha has a slew of other health benefits including:
– helps with blood flow and circulation
– natural sleep aid because barley contains melatonin
– supports good digestion
– contains some antioxidants
All this and no caffeine. I’m sold. Usually my impulse purchases are far less healthy than this. With summer coming soon, I am going to give it a try iced, since that’s an extremely popular way to drink it in Japan, especially during the hot summers. Let’s see if I get tired of it before then…