Barley water is a soft drink that is popular in Britain. Robinsons Barley Water, a brand available in the United Kingdom, began as a company sanctioned to make barley water to hydrate tennis players at Wimbledon. It is held as a restoring drink full of electrolytes and easily absorbed energy, making it a good drink for athletes, those who are ill, and anyone who is dehydrated. Barley water is purported to have several other health benefits as well.
Barley water is typically viscous, tart and sweet. It is often flavoured with citrus fruits, particularly lemon or lime. Occasionally it is flavoured with ginger, berries or melons in addition to its citrus base. It has a taste similar to lemonade, though it is denser and sweeter. Barley water is almost always consumed when cold, enhancing its restorative properties. It is a very popular summertime drink, one that can provide a welcome contrast to lemonade and iced tea.
Barley water is very helpful in aiding recovery from diarrhoea. According to "More Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies" by Joan Wilen, barley helps the body retain water, and in a liquid form is particularly restorative. The nutrients in barley water are easily digested by the body and can help support a person who is too sick to eat. Drinking barley water is traditionally held to improve complexion and slow the wrinkling of skin. Barley and barley water also help in weight loss because they act as an appetite suppressant.
Barley water, like many other sweetened beverages, tends to be high in carbohydrates and simple sugars but very low in fat. Barley water also tends to have negligible amounts of sodium. It generally has no protein content, as the protein from the barley is retained in the cooked barley rather than the barley water. Depending on how much citrus juice is used to flavour the barley water, it can be an excellent source of Vitamin C. Barley water can be made more healthful by using less sugar.
Making Barley Water at Home
Commercial barley water is very easy to recreate at home. For one quart of barley water, bring six cups of washed barley to a boil with eight cups of water. Set the heat to low and let it simmer for an hour, then strain. Pour the hot barley water over two juiced lemons and their juice and add sugar to taste while it's still warm. Chill, and remove the lemons before serving. You may add other fruits, such as raspberries or strawberries, to lend a different flavour, or add a small piece of peeled ginger fruit to the steeping barley water to lend a spicy tang.