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Barley Water

Barley Water Recipe

The barley water keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice to make lemon barley drink.

Read the cooking notes at the end of the recipe for the choice of barley, sweetener as well as low-carb/diabetic suggestions.



  1. Make the drink. In a large soup pot, add all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and keep a small vent opening. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until the barley pearls are softened to liking and the water turns partly milky. Top up more water whenever needed during simmering. If the drink is not sweet enough, you can add more candied winter melon or rock sugar during the last 10 minutes.
  2. Serving suggestion. You can serve the barley drink with or without the cooked barley pearls. The cooked barley can also be added to soups and stews. This drink can be consumed warm or chilled.

Cooking Note(s)

  1. If you are using Chinese barley (中国薏米) instead, simmer for additional 30 mins or longer until the pearls are softened to liking. Alternatively, soak the barley in a bowl of hot water for 1-2 hours before cooking, or keep it warm in a thermal pot for another 2 hours.
  2. If you are using rock sugar (冰糖) instead, add about 50g rock sugar during the last 5 minutes of cooking. You can also use a mixture of winter melon sugar (added in the beginning) and rock sugar to taste (added during the last 5 minutes).
  3. For low-carb or diabetic-friendly diet, you can omit the sugar altogether (the drink will taste bland but still as nutritious). Or you can add a few drops of liquid stevia, to taste.
  4. If you are in a hurry, you can do a quick simmer of 15-20 minutes if not eating the boiled barley. The barley water will not be as thick and milky, but my mum say the quick-simmered version is just as nourishing.
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6 comments on “Barley Water”

  1. I like barley..Chinese or western. I remember the barley water I had in hot humid summer at home. That barley soup looks terrific too.

  2. Hi! What is that pot you’re using to boil the barley in? Thanks!

  3. Hi there, thank you for sharing. May I check roughly how long do you simmer till the water turn milky? 
    Thanks ahead! 

  4. Pingback: December 2022 – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand – H&A

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