Kombucha is a probiotic drink with many health benefits. It is made by fermenting tea and sugar with a kombucha culture, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeasts). Sometimes this gets called a mushroom, although it is not actually a mushroom.
Jun is similar to kombucha but is made using a different SCOBY and uses honey instead of sugar. I started out making kombucha until I discovered jun. I prefer to use local honey rather than sugar, and I prefer the flavour so I stick to making jun now.
There is a lot written about kombucha, but not much about jun. It is assumed that the health benefits are similar, some say jun is even better.
Kombucha is known to help with detoxification. In fact it is recommended that people new to kombucha start with only a small amount the first few days so that the detoxification is not too strong.
Like other fermented foods, jun and kombucha are full of probiotic lactobacillu bacteria which help with digestion and also the immune system.
Kombucha is also good for energy levels as it is high in B vitamins.
I generally use a mix of green tea and rooibos tea (sometimes called red tea), and then with each batch I add various additional herbs, recently I’ve been using lemon verbena as I particularly like the resulting drink.
Different types of honey affect the flavour of the resulting jun, but the specific flavour of the honey is usually lost. Eg if you use lemon honey, the jun will not taste of lemon, although it will have a lighter flavour compared to if you used a stronger honey such as heather or chestnut which give a deeper flavour to the jun.
I use a 4 litre jar, although I don’t fill it to the top so make slightly less than 4 litres, here’s my recipe:
Make the tea. I generally make the tea in the evening and leave it to brew overnight and then I continue the next morning.
Mix the honey into the tea, until it is fully dissolved. Top up with more water but don’t overfill the jar.
A couple of weeks ago I put more honey in by accident, I used around 485g and it made very good jun, with a stronger flavour. Experiment and find the amounts you are happy with.
Add some jun from the last batch (if this is your first time, you should get some with the SCOBY) and put the SCOBY on top. (Where to get a SCOBY? If you have a friend making jun, ask them. The SOCBY will keep growing so you can share pieces of it with friends. If not you can try asking on this Facebook group.)
Cover with a light cloth, so it is open to air but dust and flies can’t get in.
Fermentation time is dependant on room temperature. I go from 8 days in winter to 7 days as it is getting warmer, to 6 days in summer. I live in Portugal and have no heating so room temperature varies quite a bit through the year. If you have heating you might find your room temperature stays more constant and you don’t need to vary the fermentation time. I usually taste it when I think it should be ready – with experience you will be able to tell whether it is ready or needs another day.
Use only glass or ceramic containers to ferment in – the acids in the jun or kombucha will eat into plastic and contaminate your drink and metal can kill the cultures.
When the jun is ready, take the SCOBY from the top and reserve for your next batch. Strain the jun and put in bottles. The flavour improves and the jun will become fizzy from being in a bottle for a few days – I find a week is a very good time. You have to be careful at this point, bottles can explode if the pressure builds up too much. And be careful opening the bottle, it can spray out if there is too much pressure!
Now it is time to experiment! Recently I used lemongrass for the first time, the resulting jun had an amazing flavour like a bitter beer. Let me know your favourite herbs to use in the comments below.