Cooling Pearl Barley Tea | 薏苡仁凉茶

Yi Yi Ren is an herb that goes by many names: Yi Mi, Job’s Tears, Pearl Barley, Adlay, and even Coix Seed. Under the guidance of a licensed herbalist, it can be combined in a formula to treat diarrhea, edema, UTI’s, enlarged prostate, and arthritis. But it isn’t used only in medicinal formulas.

Yi Yi Ren is considered a Top Shelf Herb (上药) which means that it can be regularly used, over a prolonged period of time to support and strengthen the body. Job’s Tears is also cooked in soups, congee, or used in a refreshing cold salad. In tropical climates with Damp-Heat Summers, the herb is made into a refreshingly cool beverage with candied wintermelon and a squeeze of lime juice. With Summer just around the corner, we thought we’d introduce you to that drink!

Before diving right into the recipe, let’s take a closer look at the herb itself. Yi Yi Ren is cool and sweet which means it’s perfect to help combat Summer Heat and strengthen the Spleen and Stomach. It helps to resolve Dampness, which may aid in draining abscesses or cystic acne. It’s role in expelling Wind-Dampness may also help in acute cases of diarrhea due to food poisoning or a seasonal bug. Lastly, the herb’s ability to “drain” makes it effective in relieving cases of painful, swollen joints (a.k.a. arthritis).

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about the herb we’re working with, let’s get cooking!

Cooling Pearl Barley Tea: 薏苡仁凉茶

Recipe by Nicky Todd


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 6 cups Water

  • 1/4 cup Yi Mi/Pearl Barley (薏苡仁)

  • 6 pieces Candied Wintermelon (冬瓜)

  • 5-6 slices fresh Ginger

  • Optional: Lemon, Lime, Calamansi Juice to taste


  • Rinse 1/4 cup Yi Yi Mi until water runs clear.
  • Add Yi Yi Ren and fresh Ginger slices to pot with 6 cups water. Boil 15-20 minutes at medium heat.
  • Remove from heat. Add Dong Gua and stir.
  • Strain and garnish with a spoonful of the cooked Yi Yi Ren and the juice of of a Lemon, Lime, or Calamansi.
  • Best served chilled!

Recipe Video

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