With health food becoming increasingly popular, the rise of drinks with health benefits has begun to rise. Thanks to stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, these drinks are more popular than ever. Even with these advantageous beverages, the substitutions for a healthy soda-like beverage are still limited.
Katie Brown, Jun brewer and fermentation hobbyist, said she was looking for a healthy alternative to soda when her friend told her about Jun while looking for kombucha brewing supplies. After a little research on the process and benefits, her hobby bloomed. Katie told LOCAL about the differences between kombucha and Jun.
“Kombucha is traditionally brewed with a blend of black teas and sugar which both provide nutrients for the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Jun, however, uses a blend of green teas and raw honey. In addition to the brewing differences, Jun has a lighter, more delicate flavor profile, which makes it a good alternative for people who do not enjoy the sour taste of kombucha.”
The benefits of kombucha are vast and have been noted to produce a healthy functioning liver, aid in digestion and gut health, support joints, and even boost the immune system. Jun has some of the same as well as added benefits with the use of raw honey over sugar. While Jun is relatively new in the western world, there are claims that those in Tibet and China have been enjoying the fermented beverage for thousands of years.
“Since drinking Jun, I have noticed that I have felt much more energized throughout my day, my skin has become clearer, and my digestion hasn’t been as sluggish as it was in the past. Jun’s probiotic qualities help a variety of issues. I have… noticed that my immune system is much more resilient; since honey is known for its immune boosting benefits, fermenting it allows our bodies to better digest its range of benefits.”
Jun is an easy way to ingest probiotics. She says it’s especially beneficial for people who don’t enjoy consuming yogurt or taking pills, as Jun is a simple and tasty way to ensure that your body is getting the good bacteria it needs.
To aid us in our understanding of this unique fermented drink, Katie provided LOCAL with a Jun SCOBY and some instructions so we could try brewing our own.
The Brewing Process
What you need:
1 gallon glass jar (plastic lid or nozzle, but no metal fixtures)
1 gallon filtered water
1 cup honey (raw and local is best)
4 tsp green tea (organic preferably)
1 Jun culture or SCOBY
1 cup Jun starter tea (from previous batch brewed with SCOBY)
Heat the water to 164 degrees Fahrenheit, using a candy or frying thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
Remove from heat, place the liquid into a tea infuser with green tea and let steep for 2 minutes.
Remove tea bags and pour the liquid into a glass jar (your fermentation container).
Stir honey into mixture and cool to room temperature.
Stir in the starter tea, once mixed place Jun culture (SCOBY) on top.
Cover with a towel or cloth to keep pests out (LOCAL used a coffee filter) and a rubber band.
Set in a dark area for 3-5 days.
Remove SCOBY and place it back in the SCOBY hotel (see below for more details on how to do this).
Bottle in airtight, clear glass bottles for the second fermentation.
This is when you can add fruits, herbs or, Katie’s favorite, chamomile, to flavor the drink.
Place bottles in the same spot for an additional 3-5 days to allow carbonation.
Refrigerate until opening (which we recommend doing over a sink due to fizziness).
Enjoy your Jun & all of its added benefits!
What Katie wants you to know when brewing:
- Jun ferments at a lower temperature (around 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and much quicker than kombucha does. As such, it is a lot easier for Jun to sour quickly! Sample your Jun daily so that you know when you need to bottle it.
- Jun SCOBY is NOT the same as kombucha SCOBY as they feed off of different sugars and yeasts.
- Jun SCOBY may be purchased through a reputable seller on Etsy. However, if someone in your community is brewing Jun, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them for a baby. Most people are more than happy to share!
- Like kombucha, there is a slight alcohol content in Jun (usually around 2% for Jun and around .5% for kombucha).
- When done, reserve Jun SCOBY with two cups of liquid in a smaller, covered glass jar (thus creating a SCOBY hotel). If brewing within a few days time, no refrigeration is necessary. If the process becomes longer, refrigeration is recommended.
- Fruit is often added to the second fermentation or during the bottling stage. To ensure your SCOBY lives a long healthy life, it is best to stick to the green tea and honey for the primary fermentation.
- After about three to five days in the solution with the SCOBY, you can bottle the drink. Once you remove the SCOBY, you can add herbs, fruit, or even vegetables to glass bottles with the tea. This second fermentation is what gives it its distinct carbonation.
- The hardest part is finding new combinations to flavor Jun for the second ferment. But that’s also part of the fun! Flavors that haven’t worked so well according to Katie include coconut, cinnamon, and banana.
“I first set out to brew Jun as an easy way to get my intake of probiotics. Over the months it has become one of my most rewarding hobbies! My friends and family surely enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
Thanks to Katie, now the rest of Pittsburgh can too!