How to brew Jun (Kombucha’s older sister) a fermented probiotic drink made from green tea, raw honey, and SCOBY cultures in your own home.
We’ll take you through a few basics and then get into the details on how to brew. Scroll to the bottom for Step by Step instructions on how to brew Jun.
- What is Jun?
- Why brew your own Jun?
- What is a SCOBY?
- How do I get a SCOBY?
- Keeping the SCOBY alive between brews
- Can I brew Jun with a Kombucha Scoby?
- Is Jun alcoholic?
- How long does it take to Brew Jun?
- What do I need to brew Jun?
- How to Brew Jun: Step by Step
- How to use the dish towel and rubber band?
- Transitioning to the Second Ferment
- Why the Second Ferment?
What is Jun?
Jun is a fizzy probiotic drink fermented from green tea sweetened with raw honey and fermented with a SCOBY.
The less popular, yet healthier, older sister of kombucha, Jun originates from ancient Chinese culture and is at the essence, fermented green tea.
Raw honey is the real distinguishing character of Jun and the reason I prefer Jun to Booch. While Kombucha is made with cane sugar and black tea, Jun is made from green tea and raw honey.
Unrefined honey brings health benefits of its own. In addition to easing allergies, honey’s natural antiseptic properties mean you are less likely to brew a compromised batch. And I would rather drink something fermented from raw honey than processed and refined sugar.
Why Brew your Own Jun?
Here are my top five reasons to brew Jun on your own at home:
- There isn’t much June on the market! Most fermented tea drinks are Kombuchas with high granulated sugar content
- There are rumors that store-bought Jun and Kombucha will soon have to be pasteurized, which would kill all probiotic bacterias making the store-bought Kombucha simply a sweetened and artificially carbonated beverage and removing all health benefits of the raw fermented drink.
- You have complete control over the flavor, fizz, and sugar content.
- It’s cheaper.
- It’s really fun… like science camp for people who always want a fizzy drink on hand.
What is a SCOBY?
A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
Yep! A SCOBY is a mushroom-looking mixture of living bacteria and yeast. And that bacteria and yeast will work together to turn honey and green tea into CO2 (aka bubbles), anaerobic probiotic bacteria like Gluconacetobacter kombuchae and Lactobacillus, and small amounts of alcohol.
The brewing process reduces the sugar content of the beverage because the SCOBY transforms that sugar into gut healing acids, bacterias, and probiotics. It also provides a tangy flavor and fizzy texture.
Look at this post to see the list of beneficial pro-biotic bacterias and acids typically found in home-brewed Jun or Kombucha.
And how do I get a SCOBY?
There are plenty of booch and Jun brewers trying to give away their extra SCOBYS. Trust Me!
Every time you brew a batch of Jun, your mother SCOBY creates a baby SCOBY. This means that the culture duplicates. Remember that this SCOBY is a living, breathing organism that feeds off of the honey-sweetened green tea mixture and in that process, it reproduces.
That concept may take some getting used to, but this is the reason Jun has so many gut-healthy probiotics.
If you don’t know someone that is already brewing, check local facebook and craigslist listings. Otherwise, the Kombucha Kamp folks are amazing and will ship SCOBYs to you from amazon. I got my first SCOBY from them after a Kombucha making workshop at ShiftCon.
Keeping the SCOBY Alive between brews?
Your SCOBY is happiest when you are making Jun. It gets all the fresh green tea and honey it desires. But, your SCOBY will be just fine sitting in Jun for several weeks until you are ready to use it.
If you just got a SCOBY and are waiting to start your first brew, place the SCOBY in a mason jar and fill the jar with Jun or starter liquid. Cover the mason jar tautly with a dish towel and secure with a rubber band. The SCOBY will last for several weeks like this.
Taking a long break from brewing?
If you are taking a longer break on brewing and need to keep your SCOBY for several months, start a brew and then let it brew for several months instead of a week. This will create vinegar that you can use for cleaning, salad dressing and anything you’d typically use apple cider or white vinegar for.
If you have a lot of SCOBYs, create a SCOBY hotel. A SCOBY hotel is just a stack of several SCOBYS in a large mason jar with Jun. Freshen the SCOBY hotel with a little bit of sweetened green tea every 4-6 weeks so they have some fresh food and stay healthy.
Can I use a Kombucha SCOBY to Brew Jun?
You will need to gently transition your refined sugar SCOBY to the new food source of raw honey. Start by changing a 1/4 of the recipe at a time. So instead of 1 cup of white sugar on your first transition batch, use 3/4 of white sugar and 1/4 cup of honey. As long as the SCOBY creates a good brew and duplicates, you can continue to transition 1/4 cup at a time from sugar to honey.
If the SCOBY does not do well, stay at the current transition ratios until the SCOBY starts to improve, then proceed with your transition.
Clear as mud? Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll clarify.
Is Jun Alcoholic?
Not really. There is some alcohol content but it is so little they don’t even require an ID when you purchase it at the store, which means it has less than .05% alcohol. Compare that to wine averaging at 12% or an IPA at 7-13% depending on your brewery.
It is hard to nail down the specific amounts of alcohol since it varies widely on fermentation times, sugar input, and length of time on the shelf. The longer Jun brews, the more sugar content will decrease and alcohol content will increase.
Overall, it is pretty well accepted that the alcoholic content of Jun and Kombucha is negligible. If you want more info, check out the awesome post by Health-Ade, which is my favorite store-bought brand of booch these days.
How long does it take to brew Jun?
This will be something you tweak as you go through the process and begin to learn what kind of Jun you like. A longer ferment will get tangier and fizzier. A shorter ferment will be sweeter and less effervescent.
You can also alter the required time by how large your SCOBY is. The more SCOBY you have in your mason brewing jar, the quicker the honey and green tea will ferment.
For your initial brews, start with 1 week in the large gallon mason jar for the first brew and 1 week in the sealed bottles for the second ferment. From there, adjust based on preference.
Teh good thing about brewing Jun is that it is very forgiving, so if you run out of time you can extend the brews by a week.
What You’ll Need to Brew Jun at Home
- 8 green tea bags (or the equivalent in loose leaf tea)
- 3/4 cup raw honey (The honey must be Raw! Use 1 cup if you prefer things on the sweeter side)
- 1 gallon glass mason jar ( must be glass)
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 cup Jun for starter liquid (will come with your SCOBY, a previous brew, or use store-bought raw Kombucha or Jun)
- 1 dish towel
- 1 rubber band
- Bottling Jars
- Canning Funnel
- Regular Funnel
- Strainer, I recommend a kitchen sink strainer
- Fruit, roots, and herbs to flavor the Jun on its second ferment in the Bottling Jars.
How to Brew Jun
The first step to making Jun is obtaining your SCOBY. Your SCOBY should come with about 1 cup of already fermented Jun which will be the starter liquid for our brew.
Brew Green Tea
Then every time you make Jun, you will start with boiling water to make green tea. In a large soup pot, bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil. Remove that water from the heat and add the equivalent of 8 green tea bags to the water to steep. You will steep them longer than if you were making tea to drink, this is because the longer it steeps the more flavor will transfer to your finished Jun brew.
Let the green tea steep until the water is just above luke warm. You want it cool enough that it won’t cook the raw honey but warm enough that the honey will easily disintegrate into the water.
Mix in Raw Honey
Once the green tea is just above lukewarm, mix in the raw honey. For your initial brew, use 1 cup of raw honey. After a few batches once you confirm your SCOBY is working well and fermenting the sweetened tea, you can reduce the amount of honey used.
For a slightly less sweet end product, use 3/4 cup honey for each gallon batch.
Starting the brew in the Gallon Mason Jar
Now you are ready to mix everything together and let nature do its thing.
Put the sweetened green tea into the mason jar. Add the SCOBY and starter liquid to the mason jar and then fill the mason jar up to the top with room temperature water. You wan the liquid to be higher than the largest part of the jar but not to go into the mount of the jar.
To seal the jar, put a dish towel over the top and fasten tautly with a rubber band.
Let the jar sit in a dark, undisturbed place. Jun likes slightly warmer temperatures, so don’t worry about finding a cool place. Leave it undisturbed for about 1 week.
How to use the dish towel and rubber band?
The SCOBY is a living thing, thus your Jun brew needs to have airflow. However, you don’t want particles falling into the brew because they could contaminate it.
This is why we cover the brew with a dish towel. The dish towel is firm enough to be reused and to stay taught against the top of the mason jar. This is important because you don’t want any strings or parts of the towel to dip into the brew. The dish towel needs to remain dry in order to prevent contamination.
The rubber band secures it in place, ensuring no particles or bugs get into the brew and that the towel stays firmly in place.
Transitioning to the second ferment
After the Jun completes its initial brew in the gallon mason jar, it is time to transfer it to smaller glass bottles for the second ferment. You need to make sure these bottles have a good seal and won’t let air out. This is how the drink becomes naturally carbonated.
You will want to start step 1 of heating the water and brewing the green tea ahead of this point so that you are ready to start your next gallon brew.
First, remove the SCOBY and place in a bowl. Then pour about a cup of Jun from the top of the mason jar into the bowl with the SCOBY. This will be your starter liquid for the next brew. Set aside.
For the next step, position a strainer (a kitchen sink strainer works great!) into a funnel and place the funnel into a bottle. Gently pour the Jun from the mason jar into the bottle. You will notice yeasty bits and scoby pieces catching in the strainer.
You will use most of the Jun from the gallon mason jar to fill the bottles, however do not use the yeasty buts at the bottom. This part can be discarded.
Fill the bottles with Jun, making sure to leave minimal air in the bottles for extra carbonation in the finished product. Then store the bottles in a dry dark place for another week.
Why the second ferment?
The second ferment happens once you pour the Jun from the large mason jars into bottles. You remove the SCOBY and filter the yeasty bits leaving brewed Jun. However, after the first ferment in the gallon mason jar, the Jun will still be a little on the sweeter side and not quite as fizzy.
Pouring the jun into sealed brewing bottles allows the Jun to continue brewing, which means reducing sugar content. Through this process, additional CO2 is created as a natural byproduct which leads to a bubbly and fizzy drink.
During this second ferment, the bacteria continue to replicate which means the probiotic nature of the drink continues to grow during this second ferment.
How to Brew Jun – Recipe
- Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let tea steep until water is just above lukewarm
- Mix in honey until fully dissolved and pour sweetened tea into a clean glass mason jar
- Fill Mason jar to about 3/4 full with room temperature water
- Add SCOBY and starter liquid. The liquid should rise to the top of the widest part of the jar yet not reach the mouth of the jar.
- Wrap dish towel tightly over the top of the mason jar and secure with a rubber band.
- Let sit in a dark, slightly warm place for 1-2 weeks.
- Remove SCOBY and 1 cup starter liquid for the next brew. Pour off Jun into bottling jars, leaving little air in the jars. Make sure to discard the yeasty bits at the bottom of the large Mason Jar brew.
- Seal bottling jars and sit for 1-2 weeks in a dark, slightly warm place.
- These Jun bottles are ready to be served and enjoyed! You may store in the fridge for 6-8 months.
Home Brewed Jun
Jun is a fermented tea drink rich in probiotics made from green tea and raw honey. It is like Kombucha, but better, because it doesn't use refined sugar and maintains the benefits of local honey. A deliciously refreshing fizzy drink with probiotics
- 8 tea bags green tea
- 3/4 cup Raw honey must be raw
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 cup starter liquid Jun
Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let tea steep until water is just above lukewarm
Mix in honey until fully dissolved and pour sweetened tea into a clean glass mason jar
Fill Mason jar to about 3/4 full with room temperature water
Add SCOBY and starter liquid. The liquid should rise to the top of the widest part of the jar yet not reach the mouth of the jar.
Wrap dish towel tightly over the top of the mason jar and secure with a rubber band.
Let sit in a dark, slightly warm place for 1-2 weeks.
Remove SCOBY and 1 cup starter liquid for the next brew. Pour off Jun into bottling jars, leaving little air in the jars. Make sure to discard the yeasty bits at the bottom of the large Mason Jar brew.
Seal bottling jars and sit for 1-2 weeks in a dark, slightly warm place.
These Jun bottles are ready to be served and enjoyed! You may store in the fridge for 6-8 months.