Barley and Candied Winter Melon Drink

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Finally the sultry days of summer are upon us, complete with high temperatures and humidity. The mercury is expected to climb to the nineties later this week. To combat the heat, this sweet barley and winter melon drink is the perfect antidote. Both barley and winter melon are considered to have a cooling influence by the Chinese.

Growing up in Malaysia, I had many, many cups of this cool and refreshing drink. While it may be served warm, I much prefer it chilled. Mom often made a huge pot of it and kept it chilled in jugs or bottles in the refrigerator. Fragrant pandan leaves, a Southeast Asian enhancement to the Chinese original, were included to give the drink added flavor. For people who prefer the drink without the barley grains and strips of winter melon, these may be strained out.

Barley and Candied Winter Melon Drink

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Barley and Candied Winter Melon Drink


  • ½ cup (100g) hulled or pearl barley
  • 1 cup (120g) candied winter melon
  • 8 cups (2 liters) water
  • 2 pandan leaves, rinse and knotted
  • Sugar to taste**


Rinse and soak barley for 30 minutes. Drain.

Place barley, candied winter melon, water, and pandan leaves in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for an hour.

Remove and allow to cool. Serve warm or chilled.


**If you prefer a sweeter drink, add a little sugar but candied winter melon itself is sufficiently sweet.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)

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40 Responses

  1. That’s not something you get often here – it’s been so hot, I could use this!

  2. Victoria says:

    This is so unique! I’m definitely intrigued. Always looking for a fun new refreshing summer drink :)

  3. Julie M. says:

    That looks so refreshing Biren! I could go for a big glass right about now; it’s pretty darn hot down here already. :)

  4. Zoe says:

    I love this drink too. It can be served warm for winter too.

  5. rebecca says:

    lovely drink I had bitter melon in a Japanese restaurant once so tasty

  6. sangeeta says:

    This looks like gorgeous drink . I love pearl barley ans use it profusely and this drink looks perfect for me.

    The winter melon candy looks like the Indian Petha , is it so ?

    • Biren says:

      I did a check on the internet and from the description it sounds similar. I think you should be able to use it. :)

  7. I love reading your posts. every time I learn something new. Never heard about candied melon before but your drink sounds refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day
    Thanks for sharing Biren

  8. Blackswan says:

    Love making this drink too. Whenever I make these, it reminds me of my younger days where mum used to prepare this for my family :)

    Thks for bringing back the old charm!

  9. prathibha says:

    first time here..u hv a nice space here…lovely healthy drink

  10. Anncoo says:

    Biren, I love this barley and candied winter melon。We called 糖冬瓜意米水 in Cantonese but most of the time we only finished the barley water and candied winter melon…not to waste the cooked barley I will throw it into agar agar with egg drop as a sweet dessert.

  11. My mom loves to prepare a similar drink for us in summer time. So good to have a large glass after a nap in hot humid summer afternoon!

  12. Jeannie says:

    Great cooling drink for hot days! I love eating the candied melon on its own too:P

  13. I’ve never seen winter melon (does it have another name?) let alone a candied version. This looks very, very refreshing though.

  14. Pam says:

    This is very unique. I love barley but can’t quite imagine what this drink would taste like. It does look refreshing though and perfect for our hot summer day here. I’ve got an award for you on my blog today.

    • Biren says:

      This drink is sweet and most refreshing when chilled.

      Thank you so much for thinking of me. I will check out the award soon. :)

  15. This looks incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it. I have to try it. Thank you!

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What’s For Dinner

  16. Cheah says:

    We desperately need this cooling drink right now to combat the hot weather!

  17. Hi Biren! I can imagine drinking this in hot and humid weather and cool off… I need to check this candied winter melon in the Asian store that I go to. The picture will really help! It’s so cold here today and I really wish I live in your area. It’s hard to believe we live in a same country… One place is like summer one place is like fall/winter weather…

  18. Priti says:

    Look so gud n refreshing …love it

  19. tigerfish says:

    We are still experiencing showers here in CA! I hope to get some sun here soon!

    Long time since I have drank barley with candied winter melon in it.

  20. Adora's Box says:

    I love munching those winter melon sweets. I never knew that they can be made into drinks. You are so lucky to have summery weather. The sun comes and goes where we are. Sad.

  21. Kate says:

    Wow, this sounds so refreshing and good! I wonder how it’d be with candied ginger in place of the winter melon, since it’s hard to get candied winter melon where I am…

  22. Looks very refreshing and very unique to me :)

  23. Gosh, Biren. This looks so refreshingly different. I can just imagine how this hits the spot in that heat. Good luck in those rising temperatures! Cheers to you.

  24. A delicious and refreshing ‘evergreen’ drink! Love it warm and love it cold too! One glass is always not enough! :)

  25. Juliana says:

    How interesting this recipe of barley and winter melon…never thought is using the sugary winter melon to make a drink…it sure looks very refreshing. Hope you are having a great week Biren :-)

  26. Wow you are already reaching the 90s? I think you are warmer than we are :D

    This drink is new to me. I love finding out new and interesting things from you…I just wish I could grab it off the screen and try it!

    • Biren says:

      The temperature hit 100 degress today! Spring was so cool and then all of a sudden it is so HOT! Big swing in temps as it is suppose to cool down to the 60’s this weekend.

  27. Daisy o Carl says:

    Seems Delicious Want to try :D

  28. Living in Phoenix, I am always game for a cool-you-off kind of drink. This one looks like nothing I’ve had before…in a good way :) Definitely will be giving it a shot this summer…thank you!

  29. Shu han says:

    that was my mum’s weekly concoction because it’s just so hot in singapore (:

  1. June 11, 2013

    […] Candied winter melon (táng dōng guā) is easily available at Asian grocery stores. They are often used to sweetened drinks or as a filling in Chinese desserts. You can see a picture of it in this Barley and Candied Winter Melon Drink. […]

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