Homemade Barley Drink


Singapore is hot! The heat is almost unbearable, and the humidity just really doesn’t help either. Quoting my friend Leah, “we walk through a waterfall every single day.” I wonder how people survive in the arctic where the weather conditions are so harsh, and I’m sure people wonder the same about Singapore.

I believe the solution is air-conditioning and cool drinks. Every indoor place that I go, except at home, is air-conditioned. However, in Singapore, the air-conditioning is set to ridiculously low temperatures – I think it’s about 22 degrees Celsius – which is a drastic difference from the 34 or 35 degrees Celsius outside. The other reason why people survive in Singapore has got to be it’s vast variety of cool drinks. There are a ton of cool drinks in Singapore. Other than the usual soft drinks, we have the traditional drinks like sugar cane juice (Jas’ favorite), homemade barley drinks, chrysanthemum drinks, calamansi drinks and a whole variety of freshly made fruit juices.

Here’s an easy one to make – barley drink. It is supposedly cooling too!


  • 200 grams pearl barley
  • 100 grams rock sugar (this is a reduced sugar recipe, add more if you think it’s not sweet enough)
  • 2 litres water
  • [optional] 2 stalks pandan (screwpine) leaf
  • [optional] lemon slices
  • [optional] 70 grams candied winter melon


In a big pot, add the pearl barley, rock sugar, candied winter melon (optional) and water.

Bring everything to a rolling boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer, covered for about 45 minutes to 55 minutes.

After turning off the heat, let stand for another 15 minutes.


Using a strainer, strain away the cooked barley pearls. (These are edible, so don’t throw it away! Use it to make hoo kee dessert soup or something.)

Pour barley water into glasses and serve.

[optional] Add lemon slices and/or ice cubes for that hot day!



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