By now, most folks have heard of the popularized health tonic, kombucha, but fewer people are familiar with its less-known relative, Jun. Also known as the “champagne of kombucha” for its lighter, more effervescent profile, Jun (rhymes with fun) provides a nice alternative to those turned off by some of the more undesirable, not to say offensive, notes associated with kombucha.
Within the history and lore of Jun lie some obscurities. Stories tell of the sacred elixir being originally brewed by Tibetan monks and nomads in the Himalayan mountains 1,000 years ago. Others conclude that the Jun culture simply diverged from kombucha more recently in the West. These opposing views bring to mind the question whether Jun is just a kombucha SCOBY that has been “trained” to accept honey, or if it is a separate culture from kombucha entirely. The mystery of Jun’s origins may very well be part of its allure. As fermentation expert and author Sandor Katz puts it, “Whether or not it has a 1,000 year old history, it is quite delicious.”
Both kombucha and Jun are made by fermenting tea with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast) – the mother culture, the living home to the microorganisms that make the conversion from sweet tea to fermented beverage possible. Both beverages are touted for their range of health benefits – from providing a dose of gut-loving probiotics, to boosting the immune system.
In general, the process of making jun is quite similar to kombucha but with a few minor differences:
- Sweeter. Unlike kombucha, which is made with black tea and sugar, Jun is made with green (or white) tea and honey. This imparts a different flavor – more earthy, floral, delicate, and less vinegary (It is not actually sweeter per se if you ferment out the honey).
- Cooler. Jun can ferment at a slightly lower temperature than kombucha – 68-77 degrees versus 75-85 degrees for kombucha. This is a perk for anyone who keeps their home on the cooler side!
- Quicker. Oddly enough, Jun ferments in half the time of kombucha – 5-7 days versus 2-3 weeks.
- Higher. Jun tends to register a slightly higher alcohol content than kombucha – 1-2% versus .5%. (Of course, it is possible to control alcohol levels by adjusting fermentation time and the amount of honey used).
Convinced yet? Aw, give it a try!
Ginger Jun Recipe (from Shanti Elixirs, Asheville NC)
Serving Size: 1 gal
Jun and Kombucha SCOBYS are available at most Fifth Season locations. Inquire with your local store for more information.
** denotes product is sold at FSG
- Jun culture and starter liquid **
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1-gallon glass fermentation vessel **
- Kitchen supplies: measuring spoons, measuring cups, 1 gallon pot with lid, cutting board, knife, strainer, funnel** (to fit in flip-top bottles), tea bag/ball, rubber band, cotton cloth, blender, thermometer, scale **
- flip-top bottles **
- 12 cups filtered or reverse osmosis water
- 2 tablespoons organic loose-leaf green tea **
- 1 cup local raw honey
- 1 Jun culture **
- 1 cup Jun tea from a previous batch (called starter liquid)
- 2 oz. of organic ginger root
- Heat 6 cups of water to around 140-160 F. Place loose-leaf green tea in a teabag or tea ball and place in water. Allow to steep covered for about 1 hour. You can also just strain your tea if you don’t have a tea bag or tea ball. Pour your strained tea into your fermentation vessel and check the temperature. If the temperature has not cooled to 110 F, add some of the remaining water. Once the temperature is at 110 you can pour in the honey and stir it until it dissolves completely in the tea. Add the remaining water, and allow the tea to cool to room temperature (65 to 75 F). Wash and dry your hands well, and rub apple cider vinegar on them prior to holding your Jun culture. Add your culture to the fermentation vessel and then add your starter liquid. Cover with a cotton tea towel and a rubber band and allow the tea to ferment for 5-7 days at room temperature. Your new culture will form at the top of the jar and will cover the entire top, naturally allowing CO2 to begin to build up below. It’s best not to move the culture while it is forming.
- After 5-7 days, carefully remove the Jun cultures and 1 cup Jun tea from the top of the jar, and place them into a hotel (waiting jar). The Jun cultures and tea are now ready for you to prepare more batches of Jun.
- Pour 2-4 cups of the remaining Jun tea into a blender with about 2 oz. of ginger root. Then blend and strain (juicing your ginger and adding to the jun tea also works!). Add this to your remaining Jun tea. Let the ginger brew sit while you prepare your second fermentation bottles. Now you can strain and then funnel your brew into about 8 pint-sized flip-top bottles, seal the bottles tightly, and allow the Jun to ferment a second time for 2 to 3 days. After 2 to 3 days, your Jun tea is ready to drink. Place the bottles in the refrigerator to chill and then serve.