What is jun? How does it compare to kombucha? Is it a good choice for your family?
I'm the owner of a small café in Eugene, Oregon — an epicenter for the fermented beverage known as jun.
In this post, I'll answer some frequently asked questions about this historical beverage to help you decide whether or not it is a good choice for your family.
What is your background with jun?
I first tasted jun four years ago at a fermentation gathering.
While my booth focused on gluten-free sourdough waffles, the booth next to ours shared jun.
They were the first business in Eugene to sell the elixir — made from a scoby they brought back from China.
What is the history behind jun?
It probably dates back thousands of years to China and Tibet.
It is grown from green tea and honey, but can grow in something as simple as ginger root and honey.
If the jun scoby thrives, there's a living jun culture, no matter what it feeds on.
It's a tough topic to write about, though, because it is either highly revered and little discussed, or simply enjoyed with little background knowledge.
Purists believe that the only true jun comes from Asia without any exposure to foreign air. Here in Eugene, there have been several quite unique jun companies.
On the one hand, there's the revered Herbal Junction Elixirs with untainted brews kept pure, according to the owner.
On the other hand, you have juns like the one in our café, using a jun scoby but fermenting in the presence of the yeasts and bacteria of the Willamette Valley. We also use local honey.
Is this bad?
Some wouldn't consider this true jun, since it's “part Oregon” instead of “pure Asia”; however I disagree.
Our product, and others like it, epitomizes the beauty of ferments. It interacts with its environment and thus becomes increasingly healthful.
We wanted to harness local honey's medicinal effects. What better way than to ferment it with another superfood?
Why is jun such a controversial beverage?
Jun, still produced in China and Tibet by monks, is historically tied to spiritual, physical, and militaristic might since it increases circulation and energy.
Jun purists regard the scobies here in the United States as contraband — stolen from China — and resent the consumption of it for mere enjoyment and healthfulness.
How do you reconcile this?
I claim jun for the common man. Like anything truly healthful, it is wrong to claim ownership over it or reserve it from the masses.
This hierarchical perspective hints of feudal days and the caste system.
Truth is inclusive — it invites all to the healing waters.
Is jun alcoholic like kombucha?
Jun contains 2% alcohol, compared with kombucha's 0.5%, making it an arguable choice for kids.
Our kids love it, and we feel it's safe for them, however. Our kids started drinking jun regularly at ages 6, 11, and 14. They drink six ounces at a time, usually once a day.
Not all health sources agree on this point.
Is jun nutritious?
Yes! Living yeasts, responsible for jun's effervescence, also contain B-vitamins in a whole food, bioavailable form.
Jun is also an excellent source of probiotics, which aid in digestion and fortify the immune system.
It is also safe for those on the GAPS Diet because it is fermented with honey instead of using sugar.
Does this make jun more expensive than kombucha?
Yes. I feel that this is jun's only drawback.
For a small family of three to four people, it takes about half a cup of honey every week to keep the ferment going.
A large family of six to eight people would need about one cup of honey per week.
We buy our local honey in bulk, which cuts down on the cost considerably.
Green tea can also be purchased in bulk and, depending on your source, is no more expensive than black or white tea.
How does the flavor of jun compare to kombucha?
It is very similar.
The green tea and honey flavors certainly distinguish it, but other qualities are quite similar to kombucha.
It is effervescent and very pleasant, like tea but with a faint apple cider vinegar flavor (which gets stronger the longer it ferments).
How do you make jun?
For every 1 gallon of water, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup loose leaf green tea (or 12 tea bags*).
Decaffeinated green tea can also be used. Once the tea is steeped, cooled, and strained, add one cup raw honey, stirring to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and add to your scoby.
*Tea bags will yield a slightly milder tea flavor.
Can I flavor my jun with fruit or in other ways?
Yes, jun is just like kombucha in this respect.
You can use dried fruit or even fruit-flavored teas (substitute for about 1/3 of the green tea) when making jun.
You can also add healing foods such as ginger, turmeric, and herbs to flavor your ferment and make it even more nutritious.
Any final tips for making my jun a success?
I take you into my home kitchen, show you my scobies, and share with you one secret for ensuring greater ease when making jun in your home.
What do you think? Will you try making jun?
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