My first experience with probiotic drinks was tasting my grandmother’s continuous brew kombucha as a child. I have to admit that I found the strong taste rather challenging, and drank it only under duress at her insistence. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned to appreciate the taste of this ancient fermented brew.
Event as an adult, I sometimes find kombucha a bit challenging to drink. I prefer the taste of subtle, fresh flavoured foods and drinks over strong flavours, rarely adding spices to any of my foods. Instead, I will use fresh herbs, seeds and nuts to add flavour to my dishes.
I’ve been on many fermenting adventures over the last five years, gradually adding new ferments to my collection. Some I’ve let go (kefir, viili, yoghurt, kvass and a few more) and some I’ve kept (kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut yoghurt are my favourites). I wasn’t introduced to jun until about 12 months ago, when someone gifted me one of their cultures. Since that day, jun has become my favourite fermented drink and I now drink it every day.
It’s similar to kombucha in that it ferments with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that feeds on tea and sugar, but instead of feeding on black tea and processed sugar (like kombucha), it feeds on green tea and honey. The brewing process is similar to kombucha, but I have found that the culture that I have brews more quickly than any kombucha culture that I’ve tried.
I’m not going to go into a discussion of the origin and spirituality of jun here; there is already plenty of that around and I am not an expert on either of these topics. I can confidently tell you that jun tea is the most delicious ferment that I’ve tasted, and this delicate drink certainly lives up to its reputation as the queen of ferments. It’s relative difficulty to procure and higher expense to prepare (compared with the more popular kombucha) may mean that it remains a ferment that is prepared with love at home, rather than a commercial commodity. This makes it even more appealing for me, as I feel like the best things in life are made for love rather than money.
I make my jun tea with ingredients that are grown and sourced locally. It sometimes take a bit of extra effort to find local ingredients (ironically), but the superior taste and knowledge that my food hasn’t travelled far to get to me makes it even more delicious.
To help spread the jun tea love, I am giving away two jun tea kits via my Instagram. The contents of these kits have kindly been donated by Love Tea (green tea), Honey Fingers (honey) and The Fermentary (jun culture and tea starter), three businesses local to me who share my passion for conscious eating. Head over to my Instagram to find out more and enter this competition.
- 2 litres spring (or filtered) water
- 2 teaspoons green tea (my favourite is the Australian Sencha by Love Tea, grown locally in Victoria)
- ¾ cup of honey (my favourite local honey in Melbourne is by Honey Fingers)
- 1 jun culture (SCOBY) (my favourite local supplier of cultures for fermentation is The Fermentary)
- ½ cup jun tea (from a previous batch, this comes with your SCOBY from The Fermentary)
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced
- 2cm ginger, finely sliced
Heat water to 70-80 degrees Celsius in a large pot. Add green tea and allow to infuse for 3-4 minutes. Strain tea and return liquid to pot.
Allow tea to cool slightly and add honey. Stir to dissolve.
Allow honey-sweetened tea to cool to room temperature, and pour into a glass jar (or ceramic fermentation pot).
Add jun culture and tea. Cover lid with muslin cloth and secure with elastic band, and place in a cool, dry position (I leave mine at the back of my pantry).
After about a week (approximately seven days, depending on your climate), taste your jun tea. It should taste gently sweet and sour, but not unpleasant. If you prefer your jun to taste more sour and less sweet, leave it to ferment a few more days (until it reaches your desired taste).
Remove the culture (and the second one, if it has grown on top of your tea) and place into a small jar with about half a cup of jun tea. Store the jar at room temperature or refrigerated; both work well for me. After a while you will probably grow several cultures, and when this happens, they will live happily together in a SCOBY hotel (yes, it’s a thing – look it up). Even better – give your extra cultures away to friends so that they can make their own jun.
The jun can be consumed at this stage; if you like it how it is, pour it into a bottle, seal and place in the refrigerator. If, like me, you prefer a bit more fizz and flavour, continue to follow this method.
Pour the jun into a glass bottle or jar that can be sealed completely.
Add lemon and ginger, seal bottle tightly and allow to ferment for another few days.
Open the bottle (slowly – it may be very fizzy) and remove lemon and ginger. Replace lid and store in refrigerator.
Serve cold (with ice, if you prefer).