We recently caught up with sisters Cilla and Janice to talk about their sip-worthy venture: making mo’mugi organic barley tea in B.C.’s Shuswap region. Find out about this toast and delicious drink in our Q&A below! —Vita Daily
Hi Cilla, please tell us a bit about yourself to start!
Hi, I’m a dental hygiene practitioner, the co-founder with my sister Janice of The Canadian Barley Tea Company, and a mom to two growing boys. I live in the Shuswap where we love everything this beautiful region has to offer!
When and why did you launch The Canadian Barley Tea Company?
Have you ever been abroad and tasted something so amazing and said, “We can make this in Canada!”? Well, that story is our story. Janice went to Japan to teach English conversation 20 years ago. As she says, “Working long hours, non-stop talking made me very thirsty, and summer heat was brutal. I noticed my Japanese co-workers were calm, cool … and hydrated! They were all drinking cold mugicha, which means “barley tea”. It didn’t have any caffeine or sugar and was very thirst-quenching. Fast-forward, I got married, had two kids, and at the baby group the Japanese kids were all drinking barley tea. I was so surprised by this and discovered my kids loved it, too. On trips back to Canada we all couldn’t live without barley tea and I was literally stuffing my suitcases with the teabags. I checked where the barley came from, and some of it was from Canada. So I asked Cilla, ‘Do you want to make Canada’s first-ever barley tea with organic B.C. barley?’ And she said, ‘Absolutely!’ We launched our business in Salmon Arm in 2019 after winning two awards at Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur, a local Dragons’ Den-type pitch competition.”
What is mo’mugi? What makes it unique in the wide world of tea?
Mo’mugi means “more” because you’ll want more, and “mugi” is barley in Japanese. We wanted to pay homage to mugicha, our inspiration. Mo’mugi is organic B.C. roasted barley tea, with no added ANYTHING. It has a toasty nostalgic taste reminiscent of puffed wheat, with an inviting, comforting popcorn aroma. It’s unique because it’s a first for Canada, and it’s a drink for everyone from babies to adults that can be enjoyed all day, cold like water, or hot. What other tea can say that? What really makes barley tea special is the proven health benefits, which include increasing circulation better than water, providing antioxidants, and helping to prevent cavities, which really impressed me, as a dental hygiene practitioner!
What has some of the feedback for your product been?
Our most frequent customers tell us that mo’mugi has helped them quit caffeine and they love drinking it all day. We even have a customer who buys mo’mugi by the case! And we’ve been told by Japanese visitors to farmers markets that mo’mugi “tastes like home”. We were really happy to hear that! So if you want to skip caffeine and sugar but still get amazing flavour, then mo’mugi is a great healthy local alternative.
How do you like to enjoy your mo’mugi tea?!
We enjoy it cold all day so in our house we go through about two litres daily, and then hot as well for a soothing drink usually when we’re stuck at our desk working or before bed. Although we usually don’t add anything to it, we do love a fancy tea so we’ve been experimenting and have created some scrumptious mo’mugi B.C. beverages including the mo’mugitini, the mo’mugi PB&J latte, and our personal favourite, the Shuswap Fog! You can find them all on our recipes page.