Jun Tea, Kombucha, Scoby And Culture! The Most Comprehensive Guide
by Susan Grey on November 27, 2019
Jun is a health tonic made by fermenting raw honey and green tea. This effervescent drink, considered the champagne of kombucha, has a less pungent and sour taste compared to kombucha, and it will have noticeable flavors from its ingredients, green tea and honey. The process will require a SCOBY, just like in the kombucha brewing process.
The jun SCOBY has an entirely different symbiotic culture compared to that of kombucha SCOBY. This allows it to feed on the raw honey, which also contains its own bacteria culture, which creates a prebiotic environment in the brew. As a result, jun contains more probiotic content- up to 1.3 trillion colony-forming units (CFU) per 12oz (340ml); these are individual yeast and bacteria cells in the culture.
Prebiotics refers to dietary fiber, which is necessary for a probiotics regimen. The probiotic culture needs to feed on the dietary fiber to continue thriving. After drinking a fermented drink that's rich in both prebiotics and probiotics, they act as a gut bio booster.
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What Does Jun Tea Taste Like?
It has a sweetly sour, tart taste. The most distinctive flavors in jun tea are influenced by the specific ingredients used. Jun is also fizzy and bubbly due to the carbon dioxide produced as the honey gets broken down. This occurs as the naturally present sugar in the honey gets broken down into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This fizziness and the lighter flavors make jun tea much fresher in taste compared to kombucha.
Where Is Jun From?
The exact origin of jun is still unclear, although it's thought to have been first brewed in Tibet and northern China. Currently, evidence points to Tibetan culture, whereby jun has been brewed for over 1000 years. However, due to the numerous contradictions amongst modern-day jun brewers in terms of ingredients used and the source of the fermentation culture, it's nearly impossible to pinpoint the original recipe. It is even said that jun was prepared using the Japanese koji culture.
Its close cousin, kombucha, overtakes the history of jun. Although the two brews originated around the same place, their spread and rise in popularity didn't happen until brewers could import 'original' cultures to kickstart new ferments. Jun remains popular in Asia due to the complex nature of its SCOBY.
How To Pronounce Jun
While jun is not originally an English name, its pronunciation rhymes with 'sun' and 'fun'.
Jun Tea, Kombucha, or Tonic - What's The Difference?
To understand the difference between these three, we have to define what is a tonic. A tonic refers to a substance that's taken to give you a feeling of vigor and wellbeing, it can be medicinal, but there's no restriction requiring that it be. Therefore, both jun and kombucha tea can be referred to as tonic drinks. Jun tonic and tea can, therefore, be used interchangeably, so can kombucha brew and kombucha tonic.
However, there's a considerable difference between kombucha and jun tea. This comes from the fact that kombucha is brewed using a refined source of sugar that doesn't have an existing culture in it. On the other hand, jun relies on raw honey as the source of sugar; this contains its own natural symbiotic culture of bacteria that will interact with the SCOBY culture used.
Due to the different ingredients used in setting up the brew, kombucha and jun will have distinctly different flavors, although the touch of tartness is shared between the two drinks.
5 Health Benefits of Drinking Jun Tea
Disclaimer: While there exists empirical evidence on the benefits of fermented beverages, it's important to note that more research is still being conducted to fully evaluate the effects of such drinks.
1. Aiding Indigestion
Jun tea contains a considerable probiotic count because the raw honey already contains a symbiotic culture that interacts with the jun SCOBY culture giving the brew a rich source of prebiotics and probiotics. When consumed, the probiotics interact with the gut bio, thus aiding in digestion and maintenance of a healthy digestive system (link).
2. Boosting Immunity
The consumption of jun tea is associated with the development of a healthy immune system. This is due to its antioxidant nature, which is a trait from green tea used to brew jun. The antioxidants get released during fermentation. They are absorbed into the bloodstream after digestion, where they react with free radicals that could have otherwise reacted with other healthy body cells, which is rather harmful (link).
Jun tea contains a host of bacteria culture which is naturally adapted to hunt and destroy harmful bacteria in the gut tract. This plays a significant role in aiding the growth of a healthy gut system and reducing the number of bacterial infections for the immune system. The same probiotics play a vital role in anti-inflammation. This is based on the fact that the drink contains polyphenols such as epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG), which is found in green tea and plays a significant role in alleviating inflammation with the body (link).
4. Managing Blood Pressure
Jun contains leftover caffeine from the green tea leaves. Caffeine has been shown to have a positive impact on the blood pressure levels among its daily consumers. This is attributed to its effects on the endothelial system, whereby the consumption of green tea leads to blood vessels relaxing and allowing the blood to flow much more freely. This leads to lower systolic blood pressure (link).
5. Improving Metabolism
Jun, just like kombucha, contains a low level of sugar concentration as most of the sugar in the honey gets broken down during fermentation. Jun also contains caffeine from green tea. Both lead to a dramatic increase in metabolism after consumption. This increased metabolic rate aids in faster body weight loss and control, especially when matched with regular physical exercises (link).
These values are based on an 8.7oz (250ml) serving of jun tea prepared using raw honey, freshly brewed green tea, and culture only.
Calories: 35 (from carbs and sugar)
Alcohol content: 0.5%- 5%
Vitamin A: trace amounts
Vitamin C: trace amounts
Side Effects Of Drinking Jun
Jun tea contains billions of bacteria and yeast cells; sadly, such culture may hurt your digestive system, especially if it is your first time trying fermented tea. The presence of carbon dioxide dissolved in the drink may also lead to bloating and gastrointestinal distress. To avoid adverse reactions, start with small quantities and ensure that your body gets acclimatized before increasing the amount.
Excess Sugar Intake
Jun, just like kombucha, relies on the culture to feed on the sugar present in the honey to reduce the number of calories in it. While this does work most of the time, if the brew is not allowed enough time to brew, then there's a high likelihood that it will have a much higher calorie count compared to a brew that's been allowed to ferment fully. This may affect weight loss and produce a less nutritional, lower quality brew, as well as affecting flavor and taste.
Excess Caffeine Consumption
Jun tea gets its caffeine from the freshly brewed green tea that's used in the brewing process. While the amount of caffeine is significantly reduced during fermentation, there are still quite a sizeable amount of these molecules merely floating around in the finished tea. The amounts which range from about 8 to 14 mg of caffeine in every 8oz (227ml) serving of jun tea.
Hypoglycemia In Diabetic Patients
While fermented drinks such as jun and kombucha are recommended when dealing with type 2 diabetes, their consumption can, however, lead to hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetic patients. This is because jun tea contains polyphenols, which increased metabolism rate; in type 1 diabetes patients, this may lead to a condition known as hypoglycemia, which is characterized by a drastic uncontrollable drop in blood sugar as the bodies lack the capability to control blood sugar efficiently.
Not Safe During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Or For Children
Since jun tea contains trace amounts of alcohol from the brewing process, the drink is not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding months, and for children. Jun tea also contains quite a large number of probiotics, which might otherwise overwhelm the infant's natural digestive tract. As a result, it's recommended to avoid jun tea during pregnancy and only use it with your doctor's explicit permission if you are still breastfeeding.
Caffeine and Jun Tea
Jun tea contains caffeine, which is introduced by the green tea leaves, which are required to be brewed before fermentation. The amount of caffeine in jun is determined by the culture whereby during the fermentation process, the culture will feed on about 20 to 30 percent of the total caffeine in the brew. This will reduce the amount of caffeine from around 25mg-70mg to 15-50mg. However, it should be noted that it's impossible to force the culture to feed on all the caffeine. If the tea was left to brew until the caffeine reduced further, the drink will turn vinegary and be undrinkable.
Differences In Caffeine Concentration Compared To Other Fermented Drinks
Jun tea contains around 60 to 70% of the original caffeine content in the freshly brewed green tea that culture feeds on during the fermentation period. This can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Compared to other drinks, jun tea has a much lower caffeine content because green tea contains less caffeine content compared to different tea varieties such as black tea.
Comparison with other beverages per 8.7oz (250ml) serving:
Green Tea Jun 35mg
Black Tea Jun 65mg
White Tea Jun 20mg
Alcohol and Jun Tea
Jun tea is not always considered an alcoholic beverage, as its alcoholic content can be anything from 0.5-7% ABV. However, this doesn't mean that the drink is entirely void of any alcohol. Just like other drinks that rely on the fermentation of sugar, there's always the possibility that the culture will not be able to complete breakdown all of the alcohol content generated during the breakdown of sugar into energy, ethanol, and carbon dioxide gas.
The alcohol content in a jun brew will increase if it's bottled by about 1% as the bottling process forces the culture to change from aerobic respiration to anaerobic fermentation. As a result, the bacteria culture in the bottled drink cannot access oxygen, thus effectively stopping any further ethanol breakdown. However, the culture will continue feeding on the sugar anaerobically, leading to a negligible increase in the alcohol content in the drink.
Raw kombucha: 0.5-2% ABV
Bottled kombucha 3.5% ABV
Jun Tea SCOBY
A jun tea SCOBY refers to a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that's specially adapted to ferment raw honey without any sacrifices in terms of flavor and taste of the final brew. Jun tea SCOBY contains lactobacillus and yeast culture that require oxygen to survive. As a result, the first ferment will need a free flow of air; however, some of the jun experts insist that this exposure to air ultimately changes the composition of the SCOBY, especially the yeast species in it leading to a change in the flavor and taste of the final brew.
How is it different from a normal SCOBY?
The main difference between jun tea SCOBY and kombucha SCOBY lies in the fact that jun SCOBY is specially adapted to feed on raw honey, which has its a host of culture, which is rather harmful to young kombucha SCOBY.
Due to the difference in the two cultures, there's also a noticeable difference in terms of their defining flavors and taste, whereby kombucha SCOBY produces a much more concretely sour drink. Jun SCOBY, on the other hand, provides a delicate, slightly tart drink that can be described as having floral notes.
Jun SCOBY also interacts with the preexisting bacterial culture in raw honey, giving it a much higher probiotic and prebiotic count compared to kombucha SCOBY. Jun SCOBY also ferments the brew at a much faster rate, usually taking just 3 to 6 days to fully ferment while the kombucha SCOBY has to breakdown the sugar individually, a process that often takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days before the drink is finally fully brewed.
Jun SCOBY has a much lower optimal fermentation temperature range. Usually, within 65 to 70 degrees F (18 to 23 degrees C), this is slightly lower than that of kombucha SCOBY, which requires around 72 degrees to 80 degrees F (22 to 26 degrees C). To ferment at an optimal rate lowering the temperature beyond this usually denatures the enzymes responsible for the metabolism process in the culture, thus effectively slowing down the sugar breakdown process. Alternately raising the temperature beyond the upper threshold often denatures the microbial environment.
Where To Obtain A Jun SCOBY:
Jun tea requires a jun SCOBY to ferment correctly. Unfortunately jun SCOBYs are quite hard to get a hold of due to their lesser popularity in comparison to kombucha.
Buy From A Jun Brewer
This is probably the surest way to obtain a genuine jun SCOBY. While it's advisable to source for locally available jun SCOBYs, if this fails, you can then order online. Usually, the culture is shipped either dried or in a jun tea solution. Ensure that it's a jun culture and not kombucha culture to avoid inconsistent results. In case your culture is packed in starter liquid, you can use the fluid to prepare the first batch. This ensures that the SCOBY continues to grow optimally after setting up your first brew.
From An Acquaintance
The chances are that you may know someone who's into jun brewing who might have a mother SCOBY. This will come in handy as it's much more convenient compared to purchasing online. The chances are that they will also give you a few cups of starter tea for the first jun brew. Ensure that you have at least 1/2 cup (236ml) of starter tea for every 0.2 gallons (1L) of jun tea you wish to brew.
Convert A Kombucha SCOBY To A Jun SCOBY
For this process to succeed, you will have to start with a healthy kombucha SCOBY, which is then adapted to honey throughout batches, it usually takes about ten batches before kombucha SCOBY becomes fully adapted to ferment honey instead. After the SCOBY is fully adjusted, it can then be grown into a SCOBY mother in a SCOBY hotel to grow younger jun tea SCOBYs.
The adaptation process introduces the raw honey to the culture, and since the honey also contains its own healthy bacterial culture, it’s recommended to start with a much lower ratio of raw honey to starter tea. Start with a 10% raw honey volume to that of starter tea.
Tips On Growing A Jun SCOBY
It Takes Longer To Grow A SCOBY From Scratch
Unlike a typical jun tea brew which takes 3 to 6 days, you will have to wait for a bit longer to brew and grow a jun SCOBY. Usually, the first brew should take 8 to 12 days. After this, transfer the young SCOBY to a larger container and brew more tea all over again. This allows the SCOBY to grow optimally as it has access to all of the required nutrients.
Starter Tea Is Required
As this process doesn't need a mother SCOBY, you will have to source for an alternative source of the microbial culture that's necessary for the breakdown of the sugar. For this step, we will rely on a starter liquid, which can either be from a previous jun tea batch or bought online. The amount of starter liquid available should dictate the amount of jun tea to brew for the first time. To avoid complications during the brewing process, ensure that you use at least 1 cup of starter tea for every 3 cups of freshly brewed green tea.
Keep Your Young SCOBY Well-Fed
After the 10th day, the young SCOBY should start becoming more visible as it takes the distinctive shape of the fermenting jar's circumfluence as it floats near the top. To ensure that the SCOBY is well fed, always brew a new batch after 12 days and use the previous batch as a starter liquid. As the SCOBY grows in size, the fermentation will start to take much lesser time before it's completely fermented.
Move To A SCOBY Hotel Or Continuous Brew
After the SCOBY begins to grow more exponentially, then it's time you moved it to a dedicated SCOBY hotel where it can continue to grow and also develop baby SCOBYs. Alternatively, you can set up a continuous brew, which ensures that you have a ready supply of all the jun tea that you might require.
Avoid Over Fermenting And Starving The SCOBY
Always switch the brewing jun tea if it attains a ph. of 2.7 to 3.2 as this usually indicates that most of the sugar in the honey has already been broken down to lactic acid hence the lower ph. Adding freshly brewed and sweetened green tea will keep the SCOBY growing optimally as it feeds the caffeine and sugar in the drink.
How To Grow A Jun SCOBY:
Before we proceed, it's important to note that you will still require some form of jun starter tea either from a previous brew or from a friend.
How To Grow A Jun SCOBY From Scratch: To accomplish this, we will brew jun tea and ferment it for a more extended period (around 8 to 12 days). This allows the culture to feed on honey until a thin film starts forming near the top of the jar. This thin film will be our new baby SCOBY, which we will then continue to feed until it grows in size and is finally large enough to move to a jun SCOBY hotel, whereby it will become our new jun SCOBY mother from which we can then grow more young SCOBYs.
0.4 gallon (2L) glass jar
Fine mesh sieve
Tightly woven fabric or filter paper
Second large pitcher or jar
4 cups (1L) unchlorinated water
2 tsp green tea leaves
1 cup raw honey
1 cup jun starter tea
1. Bring the water to boil and infuse with tea. Steep for 15 minutes.
2. Strain the brewed green tea using the fine-mesh sieve and set the liquid aside to cool down.
3. Wait until the tea's temperature falls to 40 degrees C (140 degrees F) before adding the raw honey. This ensures that the prebiotics in it stay living.
4. Mix thoroughly until the honey is evenly mixed in.
5. Add the starter tea and stir.
6. Transfer the brew into the glass fermenting jar and cover with a filter paper or a tightly woven fabric to keep off the debris and other unwanted organisms from contaminating the drink during fermentation.
7. Use the rubber band to hold the cover in place and transfer the fermentation crock to a room temperature storage away from direct sunlight, leave it to ferment for around 8 to 12 days.
8. After 12 days, a thin pellicle should have formed near the top surface of the ferment; this is the young SCOBY beginning to grow. Transfer the young SCOBY to a new brewing setup with freshly brewed tea. This allows the young SCOBY to grow much faster as it feeds on the fresh brew.
9. After the second set up, the SCOBY should have grown significantly enough to brew jun kombucha on a regular schedule. The first couple of ferments will take a while longer before the culture is fully adapted to continuous brewing.
Popular Jun Drinks
Wild Tonic probably offers the most extensive collection of flavored jun brews that they sell bottled. The firm currently provides the drink in flavors such as blackberry mint, strawberry blood orange, rosemary lemon, chai pear, mango ginger, blueberry basil, tropical turmeric, hoppy buzz, and raspberry goji rose. That's not all, and you can also get some of their funkier drinks such as mind spank, dancing naked, and wild love.
Huneyjun offers a uniquely selected lineup of flavored jun tea. After fermenting the raw honey and green tea, the brew undergoes a second ferment where the firm infuses either of the following flavors: Ginger sarsaparilla, lavender berry, jasmine rose, pear lime, and blueberry ginger.
Moonbrew relies on the traditionally fermenting honey design for a truly natural effervescent with the best probiotic count. Their lineup currently consists of the following flavors classic raw honey and green tea, raspberry sage and rose, blueberry and lavender, lavender mint, strawberry and ashwagandha root, ginger turmeric, and lemon balm. All of the products are unpasteurized to ensure that the drink is packed with natural probiotic and prebiotic goodness.
While jun tea doesn't offer the same kind of flexibility that kombucha does in terms of switching the ingredients to fit your desired flavors, homebrewers do still manage to play around with various other ingredients in the fermentation of jun tea. Such setups rely on preparing small batches, which are much easier to keep tabs on and also if the drink doesn't turn out as hoped there is less loss.
Fermented Jun Hibiscus Tea - Recipe
This jun tea variety undergoes the same fermentation process just like any other brew, but instead of green tea, the brew relies on hibiscus tea. After fermenting for five days, the drink can then be taken through a second ferment to introduce a new flavor to it while still retaining hints of the hibiscus tea.
Elderflower Jun Tea - Recipe
Elderflowers are a great alternative to green tea when preparing jun tea as they are non-caffeine and still have some of the same nutritional benefits. The elderflowers give the drink an upper hand as they are a natural pain killer and can also be used to treat allergies. The resulting drink is bubbly and has a distinctively sweet aroma from the elderflowers.
Strawberry Jun Tea - Recipe
Unlike other flavor combinations that either replace one of the primary ingredients or undertake a second ferment, this one relies on a blend of green tea and fresh strawberries. The strawberries add more sugar to the raw honey, making the drink even fizzier. After fermenting for three days, the drink will be ready and full of probiotics and vitamins from the primary ingredients.
Citrus Ginger Jun Tea - Recipe
This recipe relies on citrus fruits such as oranges and freshly ground ginger to give a distinctively earthy and tart flavor. The sugar in the fruit serves to sweeten the drink and make it fizzy. Alternatively, you can use galangal, which has a sharper citrusy flavor almost piney.
Jun Tea Recipe
Single Batch Brewing
1 gallon (4.5L) mason jar or any other glass fermenting container
Thickly woven cloth
1 cup raw honey
1 cup jun starter tea from a previous batch
1 jun SCOBY
1 gallon (16 cups) unchlorinated water
4 tsp green tea leaves
1. Boil the water in a large pot and steep the tea leaves for 15 minutes.
2. Strain the brewed green tea and set aside to cool down to under 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).
3. Add the honey and mix using the wooden spatula until evenly combined.
4. Add the jun tea from a previous batch and the SCOBY.
5. Place the dishtowel on the mouth of the mason jar and use the rubber band to hold it in place.
6. Store the brewing vessel within room temperatures and away from direct sunlight for the next 3 to 5 days to ferment.
Continuous Batch Brewing
A continuous brewing set up eliminates the need to take down the brewing equipment after every batch. Instead, it relies on continuously topping up the jun tea with freshly brewed green tea with honey. For the best results, it's recommended to avoid harvesting more than 25% of the setup's total volume at a single go. Due to the much shorter brewing time, jun tea can be harvested every 48hrs.
A continuous batch brew can provide you with a constant supply all year round. Due to the accumulation of yeast gunk at the bottom of the tank, it's recommended to take it apart and clean up the vessel at least four times every year. If you notice any issues with the spigot getting blocked, then the chances are that your set up needs to be cleaned out.
Continuous Brewing Tips
Size Of The Vessel
The amount of jun tea you can harvest from the setup is directly related to the size of the fermentation vessel you are using. However, it should be noted that brewing large amounts might take a little longer to ferment as the culture has to work on the entire tank.
Allow The Tea To Cool
To avoid denaturing the culture, it's recommended to cool the freshly brewed tea to within room temperature before adding it to the configuration. Denaturing the culture would effectively cut off the fermentation leading to the growth of mold.
Use Glass Bottles
Get high-quality glass bottles to store the harvested jun tea. These will also come in handy if you want to flavor the different batches by merely adding the flavor and replacing the lids on the bottles.
1-5 gallon (4-22L) glass brewing vessel with a spigot
Thickly woven cloth
* As everyone's continuous brew containers are varying sizes, we will work off of 2 gallon, multiply the amounts if you are brewing more *
2 cup raw honey
2 cup jun starter tea from a previous batch
2 jun SCOBY
2 gallon (32 cups) unchlorinated water
8 tsp green tea leaves
1. Boil the water in a large pot and steep the tea leaves for 15 minutes.
2. Strain the green tea and set aside to cool down to under 104 degrees F (40 degrees C)
3. Add the honey and mix well using the wooden spatula until the liquid is evenly mixed.
4. Add the jun tea from a previous batch and the jun SCOBY into the fermenting vessel and top off with the freshly brewed tea.
5. Allow the first batch to ferment for a bit longer 7-12 days, depending on the size of the brewing set up.
6. On harvesting jun tea from the setup, ensure that you refill with freshly brewed and honey-sweetened tea of the same amount.
Fancy learning more about Continuous Brewing? Check this out.
Jun tea requires a second ferment set up to introduce a secondary flavor to the drink after the initial fermentation. This takes about three days and can be done with just about any flavor you wish, but when it comes to oily flavors, it’s recommended to use them sparingly as this might lead to intense flavors.
Since jun tea isn't that popular, many popular flavors, e.g. strawberry, ginger, tumeric, lemon, blueberry, vanilla, etc. do not have recipes. Instead, it's up to the brewer to experiment with different batches until they identify the required balance of flavors.
How To Flavor Jun Tea
This process relies on a second ferment to infuse the flavors to the jun tea. The second ferment will depend on anaerobic fermentation whereby the culture will feed on the remaining sugar in the jun, breaking it down into lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This makes the drink fizzy and also increases its shelf life as it can be stored in the fridge while still bottled for longer than raw jun tea can be preserved.
High-quality glass bottles equipped with airtight lids
The individual flavor needed
Raw jun tea from the first ferment
Sugar to add fizziness and a touch of sweetness to the brew in case the flavor is too strong
1. To ensure that the flavoring ingredient fits into the glass bottle, slice up the flavoring ingredient, or grind down.
2. Add the raw jun tea and replace the airtight lid.
3. Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight for three days.
4. Transfer the bottles to the fridge for storage. The cold temperatures reduce carbon dioxide production, which could cause the bottles to explode. Ensure that you leave a 1 to 3 inch gap from the top while filling the bottles. This allows carbon dioxide to escape to the free space. You can burp the bottles to reduce the risk of explosions.
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