Lemon Barley Water Recipe


A traditional drink in many countries around the world, including India and other parts of Southeast Asia, barley water is still produced commercially in England (where it’s the official drink of Wimbledon). True, it’s not an especially captivating name for a drink, but don’t let that put you off. Barley water can offer serious refreshment on a hot summer day. Best served chilled, it tastes subtly nutty and not too sweet, making it a nice variation from regular lemonade.


  • 1 ⁄ 2 cup (100 g) pearl barley
  • 6 cups (1410 ml) water
  • Peel of 1 medium lemon, cut in wide strips
  • 1 ⁄ 4 cup (85 g) honey, or more to taste
  • Juice of 2 medium lemons (1⁄4 cup, or 60 ml)
  • 2 sprigs lemon balm or mint


  1. Rinse the barley under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.
  2. Combine the barley, water, and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof container. Discard the lemon peel and reserve the barley for another use (toss it with vegetables and herbs to make a grain salad).
  4. Stir the honey into the hot barley water. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs.
  6. Cover and refrigerate in an airtight container. Serve chilled.

Yield: About 1 quart (940 ml)

Variation: The barley can be replaced with hulled Job’s tears, a gluten-free grain that comes from a tall grass (Coix lacryma-jobi). Job’s tears can be found in East Asian grocery stores; it also grows wild in parts of the northeastern and southern United States.


More from Wild Drinks and Cocktails

Reprinted with permission from Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han and published by Quarto Publishing Group USA, 2015

Published on Apr 9, 2019


Inspiration for edible alchemy.