INAKA started with a simple sip on a hot day in the countryside of northern Japan. I first tried barley tea as a college student after traveling for 24 hours in the dead of summer. I met my host family drenched in sweat, lugging 6 months’ worth of clothes behind me. They poured me a glass of what I thought was iced tea, and this Southern boy gladly accepted a familiar taste of home.
It turns out it was even better,
and I was instantly hooked.
Which is too bad, because when I got back home to Mississippi, barley tea was nowhere to be found. I started buying raw grains, roasting them in my kitchen, and brewing tea, sharing it with my girlfriend (now wife), Stevie, and my friends and family. I knew we were onto something, and other people would be looking for a drink like this: flavorful, refreshing, and caffeine-free.
Our family company was born from a desire to share this delicious tradition with everyone. We chose the name INAKA, which means “countryside” in Japanese, as a nod to its roots and to the place where I first tried this anytime tea.