10 May 2012

Mugicha (Japanese barley tea), with a dash of US Politics

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."  (President Obama, 9 May 2012)

DUDE. Woah. 

My mornings in Japan usually begin slowly. I loll around in bed a bit when I first wake up and check e-mail, Facebook, Twitter on my phone, one eye open and one still blurred by sleep, before I finally pull myself up and shuffle to the kitchen to make coffee. Most mornings, it's same thing, different day. Status updates, funny one liners, news about the shit economy, buttoned-up Republican talking points, incoherent Democratic rambling. Really, it's about the only time I check in on US news. Living over here is a nice that way. When you at-home Americans are sick to death of political ads, I'm living thousands of miles away, tuning in just enough to know to be able to get Jon Stewart's jokes before I tune out because, let's face it, a 24 hour news cycle is the Worst Thing Ever Invented.

But this morning. Woooooeeeee. My feeds were blowing up. North Carolina! Amendment One! Obama! Gay Marriage! OH MY GOD. How did this all go down in one day?! I went to bed last night, and it was quiet. This morning everything movin' and shakin'. A little warning next time, okay? Something along the lines of "Drink coffee this morning before you read the news. Big Things Happened yesterday and your brain should be functioning before you try and comprehend."

Some takes on the news were tongue in cheek:

Some takes were well quoted and oft-updated, with plenty of pundits and analysis:

And, as always, we can count on Fox Nation to keep it real. Love you guys!

I'm now two cups of coffee in and my head is still spinning. It's a bit weird, seeing huge changes go down in your country when you live far away and are relegated to hearing old news alone in your apartment. It's the yang to the ying of being able to tune out annoying ads. I'm always the last kid to the party. 

It's 9AM, and I'm cutting myself off of the caffeine. It's getting to warm here anyway, and I didn't think ahead to make Deb's cold brewed iced coffee, which needs a night to rest. Though my days are pretty relaxed over here in Japan, I'm thinking it's a little early for a drink too; I usual start that in the afternoon (kidding, Mom!). When coffee and cocktails are off the table, it's time for my favorite Japanese drink: Mugicha. 

(Sidenote: How's THAT for a round about introduction? I wanted to tell y'all about mugicha, or barley tea, today anyway, but then the whole President-finally-supporting-marriage-equality thing sidetracked me for a minute or twenty.)

I started in on my mugicha (moo-jii-cha) kick a couple weeks ago. It's roasted barley grains that you boil and seep before chilling, kind of like iced tea. The end result is earthy and a tiny bit bitter (nigai desu), kind of like a subtle coffee, except it is caffeine free, non-diarrhetic, and all around good for you. For a person like me who struggles to drink enough water during the day, it's a perfect solution. 

Mugicha is a summer drink here, and it does taste so good when it's muggy and hot outside.  It's so easy to make. It comes three varieties: loose grains, hybrid tea packs, and regular tea packs. I like the loose or hybrid tea packs, as you make these from warm water, and I, being a gaijin, also like the option to have my tea hot. I'm crazy like that. But you go ahead and try it both ways. I think you'll like it. At least I do.

Over and out (and off my soapbox). I've had enough of American politics for the day. Time to drink some mugicha and read design blogs instead. Ahhh...

Barely adapted from Just Hungry, a fantastic resource for all things related to Japanese cuisine.

You can buy mugicha at any local grocery store in Japan, or from Uwajimaya or Amazon back in the States. It can go rancid if it's kept around for awhile, so I try to use it up quickly and store it in the freezer.

You'll need 2-3 tablespoons of grain per liter of water. (Check the packaging if you're using tea bags, but it should be one tea bag per liter).  Fill a pan with water and bring to a boil. Add the tea. Lower the heat and let simmer a couple minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain out grain with fine sieve or cheesecloth. Place in refrigerator until cool. 

You can add sugar to sweeten the tea, if you prefer, but I find myself liking the bitter, natural taste.


  1. Seriously, it was a big day here yesterday. And I work in a small office with a girl who is straight up Kentucky country girl who is very right-winged for some reason, even though it goes against so much of how she lives. So it was tough for me to be around that when I'm used to being around my friends with open minds. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I shed a few tears when I read the Obama news. We're one step closer to an equality that's long overdue.

    Glad you're living a wonderful life in Japan!

  2. oh lord Fox news makes me want to kick someone.


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