Jun (joon) is a fermented tea drink similar to kombucha, that is made with green tea and honey as the sweetener. The SCOBY is the culture responsible for transforming the tea into a healthful beverage. A jun scoby is usually lighter in color than kombucha, as green tea has less color than black tea.
Fermenting Containers and Primary fermentation
Select a non-porous, non-metallic material, anywhere from a quart up to two gallons (or more!) Glass or ceramic work best.
Technique and Recipe
- 1 SCOBY (jun culture), at least 4 oz/150g by weight
- 1 cup starter liquid (mature jun from a prior batch)
- 15 cups/3.5 liters (1 gallon less 1 cup) filtered water
- 1 cup/240ml by volume or 12 oz./340g by weight honey (any type, raw preferred)
- 7-9 teaspoons loose green tea or 8-10 tea bags
- (Optional) Flavorings (e.g. berries, fresh fruit, fruit juice, coconut water, herbs, ginger, etc.)
- 1 one-gallon or larger glass jar or ceramic container (preferably with spout at bottom)
- 4 (quantity) Storage containers 750ml to 1 qt/liter sized-- bottles with tight-sealing lids or Swing-top bottles
- Breathable cloth to cover the opening-- dish towel, tea towel, or paper coffee filter to cover the container's opening (not cheesecloth--flies can get through!)
- Rubber band
- Funnel (for bottling)
- NOTE: You want the new SCOBY to form as large in diameter as possible. It forms at the top of the liquid, so if you're using a one-gallon container, be sure you fill the container to just below the neck of the jar (no higher).
- Boil 1 quart of filtered water (in a tea kettle or 1-gallon or larger pot).
- Add tea bags or loose tea to pot (use muslin bags or a tea ball if you like if using loose).
- Pour boiling water into pot. Add tea. Let steep for 10-30 minutes.
- Remove tea bags from pot. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Stir honey into pot until it’s dissolved. If using raw honey, let tea cool to 110°F/43°C or less before adding honey to preserve beneficial bacteria and enzymes.
- Pour remaining (unheated) filtered water into pot. Wait until the temperature drops to 100°F/38°C or below (otherwise you might kill the SCOBY). Tea is now ready.
- Dispense tea into the glass or ceramic container.
- Rub your hands with vinegar or some of the starter liquid before handling SCOBY. Carefully add the SCOBY to the jar. Pour the starter liquid from the SCOBY on top of the contents.
- Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Store in a dark, well-ventilated area (keep out of direct sunlight). If using a transparent container, wrap a towel around it to minimize light.
- Give it some good vibes, and your newly created universe will prosper!
- Taste a bit after 3 days by dispensing some from the spigot. If using a container without a spigot, gently insert a straw into the jar (pushing the SCOBY aside). If it's too sweet, let it ferment longer. If you like the taste, it's ready for secondary fermentation and bottling (see next section). If you don't plan on a secondary fermentation, then move it to the fridge (to stop further fermentation) and enjoy!
- If it's too tart, then adjust the time next batch. If it's WAY TOO TART, then you can use it for other purposes like vinegar. I save some for salad dressing, or as holding liquid for extra SCOBYs.
- If you want to flavor the tea, you can do the secondary fermentation after dispensing into bottles.
- Add any flavors—fresh fruit, fruit juice, herbs, ginger, etc. to a clean, swing-top bottle or jar with a tight lid. A little goes a long way—about ½ cup of juice or 1-2 tsp. dry herbs per quart/liter of jun.
- Add jun to jars. Cover and store for 1-3 days (in a cool dark place). Note that carbonation may build up, depending on the ingredients you use, so be careful when opening!
- Move to refrigerator and enjoy (or swap with your fellow Fermenters)!
Secondary fermentation and Jun
The complexity and flavor of the honey by itself in jun make it delicious and interesting after just the primary fermentation. However, just like kombucha, you can flavor and ferment a second time, to build up natural carbonation and other flavor profiles. Get creative! You can use whole fruit, purees, juices, or herbs and spices. A rule of thumb when using juice or puree: use 10-20% by volume of juice per volume of jun. So, for a 16 ounce bottle, use 1-3 ounces of juice. Here are just a few combinations we’ve tried.
Keeping Flying Insects Out
You can craft a simple fly trap to lure vinegar flies away from the good stuff. Read more about flies and jun/kombucha here.
Where to get a SCOBY
- Mail Order: From a Kombucha specialist. I got my original culture from Kombucha Kamp and love it! It has made dozens of babies. They ship nationwide, too (Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Kombucha Kamp, meaning I get a small percentage of sales made if you click these links and buy from them).
- Grow your own! Some commercial brands (look for the “plain” or unflavored kind) still make it with raw, active cultures. Using this as starter liquid, grow a little at a time.
- From a health-food store: Many local or regional brands now offer starter kits
- Craigslist, OfferUp or local classified ads- People are always giving them away or selling them for a low cost
- Ask for one on our Facebook page (indicating where you are located). Chances are other Fermenters in your area will be happy to give you one.
Storing SCOBY babies/ Taking a Break
If you decide to take a break from making jun, or you have extras (because a new SCOBY is made each time you make a batch), you can store your SCOBY in a little of the mature jun from the last batch you make. It doesn’t need much to survive, just enough to keep it wet. You can even build a SCOBY hotel by adding multiple cultures to a single container for storage. Keep SCOBYs at room temperature– never in the refrigerator!
Is Jun/Kombucha alcoholic?
Kombucha and jun fermentation a complex interplay between microorganisms. Yeasts consume the sugar from the tea or honey, turning it into ethanol (alcohol). The bacteria then convert the alcohol to various organic acids: Acetic acid, Gluconic acid, Glucuronic acid, Glycerol, Lactic acid, Usnic acid, as well as adding B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Normally, kombucha has between 0.25% and 1.0% alcohol by volume (ABV) but can go as high as 3%.