The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks: Barley Water

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From Michael Isted’s book, The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks, how to use the alchemy of plants to create potions to cleanse, restore, relax and revive. ‘Barley Water is a classic water used both in Europe and Asia to cleanse the kidneys and for its diuretic actions’, he says. ‘It’s also delicious and very cooling during the warmer summer months. Fantastic in the morning and throughout the day, it is something my grandmother used to prepare for us to drink as kids in summer. Traditional barley water seems to have disappeared in Europe, but I love it and here we are going to prepare a very simple version flavoured with lemon and penny royal, a brilliant deep, medicinal-flavoured mint.’

Makes about 600ml (1 pint /2½ cups)


250g (9oz / 1¼ cups) pearl barley
Juice of 1 jemon
Handful of fresh or dried penny royal, plus more to serve (optional)
Raw honey, to taste


1. Rinse the barley, then place it in a saucepan with 500ml (18fl oz/generous
2 cups) of spring water. Stir and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30–45 minutes until the barley grains are soft.

2. Strain the barley cooking liquid over the squeezed lemon and penny royal, then leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Add another 500ml (18fl oz / generous 2 cups) of spring water and allow to cool completely. Leave in the refrigerator overnight, strain, bottle and seal, then keep in the refrigerator and enjoy within 4 days, adding honey to taste, and a sprig of penny royal, if you like.

You can buy the cleansing herbs in this recipe at good quality health food shops.

You can buy The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks at the Quarto online shop or on Amazon – see the link below.


More recipes from The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks
The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks: Spring Tonic
The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks: Cleansing Infusion


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