Lemon Mint Barley Water

June 27, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

It's Wimbledon time back home in England, which brings to mind several things. Rain firstly, then strawberries and cream, then this, lemon barely water. Made by Robinsons, it's one of the official drinks at Wimbledon, and for me, one of the true tastes of summer. I'd never thought of making my own until I came across a recipe in Psychologies magazine - such a great idea! I couldn't wait to try it (if only because the real deal is so hard to find here in the States). I made a couple of amendments - I added fresh mint, which muddles wonderfully with lemon, and less sugar (I don't like really sweet drinks - this is 'tangy', you could add more if you prefer sweeter). —cooklynveg

Test Kitchen Notes

This is exactly what we want to be drinking in July. With a bit more heft from the barley, this drink also has a softer, more pleasant mouthfeel that makes it stand apart from run-of-the-mill, summer lemonades. Tart from lemon and not too sweet, this is our new go-to refresher. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 lemons, unwaxed or scrubbed of the wax coating
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 6 cups water
  1. Rinse the pearl barley and place in a large saucepan. Cover with the water and place on a high heat, and bring to a boil. Bring it down to a simmer, and cook for about 60 minutes, or until the barley is soft.
  2. When it's done, skim off any foam and drain the cooking water in to a large bowl (keep the barley for whatever dish you want - I made a barley, spinach and green pea salad).
  3. Add the zest of the lemons and sugar to the barley water and leave to steep until cool. Next, add the juice of the three lemons (I added about half a cup of water at this stage to dilute it slightly) and chill in the fridge. Taste, and adjust sweetness to your liking.
  4. Pour over ice, muddle with fresh mint and serve with tennis.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • lapadia
  • Bevi
  • EmilyC
  • nogaga

12 Reviews

LeBec F. July 23, 2013
cooklynveg, i look forw to making this; sounds super. Also, fyi, your local Japanese store will carry a common summer fav for Japanese- roasted barley tea- Mugi-cha (moo ghee CHAH)that you could make this with, with the added boost of the toasted flavor!
(All it is is toasted barley in a tea bag.)
nununo July 22, 2012
I made it, served it long drink glasses and it was the right amount for 3 perfect looong drinks. I was already really tasty and refreshing, but when I added tequila, then it was perfect ;)
lapadia July 22, 2012
Ha! Well, tequila it will be, then :)
lapadia July 21, 2012
This recipe is on my "to make" list, thank you, EC & HLA, I will keep your helpful critique in mind. :)
Bevi July 21, 2012
I would be curious to know what the testers of this recipe thought. It's hard to tell if the review is written by a tester or the editors. Most of the reviews on recipes when they were reviewed by single cooks contained more specific information. I miss the old recipe testing format.
EmilyC July 20, 2012
Being a huge fan of tart lemonade, I made this for lunch today. Should the 5 teaspoons of sugar be 5 Tablespoons of sugar? I know sweetness is a matter of personal taste, but the drink was really lip-puckering tart and my 3 lemons were on the scrawny side, yielding between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of juice. I ask because It's hard to just add sugar to taste once the drink has cooled because it won't dissolve. My first thought was that the 5 t could be a typo...please advise.
hardlikearmour July 20, 2012
I had the same experience. I also prefer a tart lemonade, but found this to be overly sour. I used 2 large lemons, and had to increase the sugar to 1/3 cup and add more water. I referenced other barley water recipes, and found they called for about 1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetener, for 8 cups water. It was delicious with the tweaking, though, so I'll definitely make it again.
cooklynveg July 22, 2012
Hello, it was indeed meant to be 5 teaspoons! I will admit, I like my lemon drinks on the lip-puckering side, so may not be to everyone's taste. In fact when I make this at home my husband prefers a sweeter taste so adds some simple syrup to it. I will add though, that the barley does soften the lemon flavor quite a bit, so I think you'll find you need less sugar than a regular lemonade recipe.
lapadia June 29, 2012
Lovely, will have to pick up some barley!
nogaga June 29, 2012
This sounds dreamy! I'll make it tomorrow :-)
Pinch&Swirl June 29, 2012
This looks tasty. Check your spelling in the title. :)
cooklynveg June 29, 2012
Ooh, thanks! That'll teach me try and upload recipes AND entertain a toddler at the same time!