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  • Writer's pictureAngie Jackson

Hot Buttered Barley Tea Recipe

Updated: Mar 20

A recipe for a wonderfully warm and cozy zero-proof nightcap to snuggle up with before bedtime.

We are over halfway through Winter and a few weeks away from the first day of Spring, friends! This is a great time to introduce a versatile elixir that can be served piping hot during the remaining cold winter months that is EQUALLY delicious served chilled during warmer spring and summer months. Roasted barley tea is perfect for both occasions! Although not technically a tea as it is grain-based, it is an extremely popular Asian drink that is enjoyed in both hot and cold forms. After my first sip, I found the flavorful and slightly bitter roasted grain could easily mimic the flavors of whiskey with a few additional flavorings for those who prefer a zero-proof elixir to enjoy before bedtime.

Roasted Barley Tea

I felt the woody and nutty flavors of the barley would blend beautifully with the baking spices and brown sugar mixture borrowed from the classic Hot Buttered Rum or Whiskey Toddy recipes that date back to colonial America. The drink has a smooth, buttery flavor profile and definitely creates a warming sensation throughout the body. Chances are really good the buttered batter mixture was born in Europe and traveled across the ocean with the early American settlers. Tavern owners served the hot-spirited drink to patron travelers to warm up after being out in the cold winter weather. During these times, it was not unusual for families to have their own Hot Buttered Rum recipe that was handed down through generations. The batter was mixed a month in advance and then frozen as a base of seasonings and sweetener to be enjoyed later with hot water and rum or whiskey. I highly recommend this ingenious drink-planning hack! If you are like me and enjoy camping, pack a few portions of the buttered batter mix to enjoy by the fire during crisp chilly northern Michigan nights while camping in the deep woods or along the lakeshore. It is a sensational slightly sweet and warm treat your body deserves before settling in for a night of solid sleep under the stars.

During warmer months, chilled roasted barley tea is just as delicious. Because the cold tea quenches thirst on its own during warmer months, I omit the spiced baking batter flavors. If I feel extra fancy, I turn to my favorite spicy ginger honey syrup, add a few dashes of Elixir Bitters #2 for appropriate seasoning, and a nice splash of fresh lemon juice for a palate-pleasing citrus sour addition.

Hot Buttered Barley Tea


  • 2 ¼ cups brown sugar

  • ½ cup butter

  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon cloves

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pinch of salt

  • Hot roasted barley tea


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and blend to create a creamy batter.

  2. Drop one heaping tablespoon of batter for every eight ounces of tea in a preheated coffee mug.

  3. Add the barley tea and a splash of half-in-half or oat milk.

  4. Stir well.

Brewing roasted barley tea

  • For a light version - Steep 2 tablespoons of barley tea per 8 oz. of boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain the barley and compost the grains.

  • For a bolder version - After removing from the heat, allow the tea to cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Allow the tea to continue to steep overnight, then strain the grain. Reheat the tea as needed and compost the barley tea grains.

For those who would like a spirited version, add 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite rum or whiskey to the tea and buttered batter mix. For a low-ABV version, add 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of spirit to the mix.

Barley tea is rich in antioxidants, which are known to have many health benefits. It also contains significant levels of melatonin which is a hormone naturally found in the body. Melatonin has been known for promoting a great night of sleep, which makes this the perfect zero-proof nightcap before bedtime. Barley tea has also been known to be good for digestion, improve blood circulation, and has also been known to reduce inflammation.

​Important Notices

Do not try self-diagnosis or attempt self-treatment for serious or long-term problems without first consulting a qualified medical herbalist or medical practitioner as appropriate. Do not exceed any dosages recommended. Always consult a professional practitioner if symptoms persist. If taking prescribed medicines, seek professional medical advice before using herbal remedies.

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