Photo: iStock: kuppa_rock

Refreshing leaves: 5 summertime teas to help beat the heat


Unlike sweetened American ice tea or the deep and dark black teas that keep us toasty in the winter, the Japanese teas that reign supreme in the summer months are light and refreshing, as well as packed with minerals and antioxidants to counter the heat and humidity of July and August.

I am a tea person. Even in the warmest and stickiest of weather, you can find me with teacup in hand. In Canadian temperate summers, I continued with my cold weather routine of warm brews. But, on the most sweltering of days here in Japan, I need a beverage that still hits the “tea” spot, yet provides the comfort that a steaming tea latte gives me in the fall and winter.

And so I began my search for cool and refreshing Japanese teas. Certainly, in convenience stores, supermarkets and vending machines, Japan was selling tea to drink in the summer. But, which ones would really help me overcome the endless heat waves? And, how could I replicate this at home, thus saving money and plastic bottles?

Below are five teas that I recommend for summer in Japan as well as the stylish and effective goods that you need to become your own tea master at home.

1. Mugicha

Photo: iStock: Wako Megumi

Out of all the teas highlighted in this article, mugicha (barley tea) is probably one of the most popular and nostalgic summertime tea drinks in Japan. Mugicha is brewed from roasted barley grains, producing a rich aroma, as well as an earthy and nutty flavor. Although you can drink mugicha all year round either hot or cold, cold-brewed mugicha is well-known for its cooling effect on the body and its nutrient-replenishing properties which make it ideal for sweaty summer days. It is also naturally caffeine-free so people of all ages can enjoy its refreshing taste and health benefits, such as aiding digestion and preventing tooth decay.

Mugicha is usually sold in conveniently-sized tea bags that you can brew hot or cold. Cold-brew mugicha will need to steep for a few hours to reach its peak flavor, but if you can’t wait, hot-brew it instead using boiling water, and then serve it over ice for a quick refreshment.

2. Mizudashi Ryokucha

Photo: iStock: kazoka30

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Nice ice tea goes down a treat in this hot humid weather.

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Iced tea always goes well this time of year. And the caffeine can perk you up too.

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Yesterday I made purple shiso juice which I drink with Tansen and ice. Some of the remaining leaves I put on top of a mousse made from Shishito and garlic. All is good in the hot weather.

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I like a good hojicha, and the barley tea looks interesting. Here in Australia the idea of tea as a cooling summer drink is probably less popular than in Japan. Their loss, imo!

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