Have you tried jun? It is sometimes referred to as the “champagne of fermented drinks”. I remember the first time I tried it. A friend of mine has huge ceramic crocks on the go, full of jun. She prepared a tall glass for me with ice and freshly crushed verbena leaves … that was it, I was in love!
What is jun?
Jun is a fermented drink that is related to kombucha. It has an elusive aroma and taste, like elderflower – hard to pin down.
Like kombucha, you ferment it with a rubbery scoby (a Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeasts). Unlike kombucha, you float the scoby in a solution of raw honey and green tea, not sugar and black tea. It is the synergy of the raw honey and green tea that give jun its unique taste and aroma.
Beware. Jun is a much faster ferment than kombucha. If you are fermenting in a warm environment, you might find that you have reached a good ferment after only four to five days.
The history of jun – don’t believe what you read
The master of all fermented things, Sandor Katz has trawled through the available literature on jun. He concludes that it is a “recent divergence from the kombucha family tree”.
You might have read some promotional material for commercially produced jun doing the rounds of the internet. Claims for an illustrious origin and history in Tibet. According to Katz there is absolutely no proof to back it up!
How to make jun
What you need:
1 jun scoby
1 litre of freshly boiled filtered/unchlorinated water
4 tea bags of green tea or 25g green tea leaves
1/4 cup of raw honey
60mL of jun, bought unpasteurised or from a previous batch
What you do:
Place tea in a heatproof glass or ceramic jug and pour over the boiled water. Let steep for around ten minutes.
Choose a wide mouth, glass heatproof vessel that will accommodate 1L of liquid plus a scoby (I use No.36 Fowlers preserving jars)
Remove the tea bags and if you have used leaves strain the tea into the jar/vessel. If I have used leaves I pop a folded nut bag into the strainer as extra protection, to catch all the leaf particles; I find it keeps the scoby clean and healthy.
Stir in the honey until dissolved.
When the solution reaches room temperature you can then add the reserved jun and then float the scoby on the top.
Cover the vessel with some clean fine woven cloth or kitchen paper and secure with a rubber band.
After four days, uncover the brew, remove a little with a clean stainless steel spoon. It should taste fizzy and pleasantly tart. If not, recover and test every day until it reaches this stage.
When your batch has brewed, remove the scoby and reserve some jun for the next batch. Repeat the brewing steps above and enjoy your first batch of jun!
- As you experiment, you will get to know how strong you like your jun. It might be a case that you like your tea steeped for 20 minutes rather than ten or you like a little extra tea in the brew.
- Remember that jun can be a fast ferment, if you forget to check it you might find it way too tart. We have made this mistake a few times and end up using it in salad dressings!
- If you have a sensitive palate you will also notice that the raw honey you use will change the taste to reflect the season and locality in which it was produced.
- Once you start to produce more scobies, you can upscale the batches, doubling or tripling the ingredients. Your scobies will grow to fit the new vessel.
- I have also brewed some rather strong batches with leatherwood honey which is common here in Tassie. It is not to everyone’s taste, however, I find it gives a complex taste that feels rather “adult”!
Enjoy experimenting with your jun fermented drink. What do you think? How would you describe the taste?