How to Make Jun: A Traditional Fermented Tea Made with Green Tea and Honey

Green Tea for Jun

Shrouded with mysticism and mystery, Jun tea is a fermented tonic made of green tea and honey.  While Kombucha tea lines the shelves of natural foods markets, both small and large, Jun tea is still relatively unknown – secreted away and held quiet.

Recently, I visited my close friends Hannah Crum and Alex from Kombucha Kamp, a resource for Kombucha and kefir enthusiasts all over the world, and tucked away she held a jar full of Jun cultures.  Curious about what has been called the “champagne of Kombuchas,” I asked her for a culture, and she dutifully packed one for me to take home and nurture so that I might begin preparing Jun, too.

Since that time, I’ve fallen in love with Jun tea.  While I still love my continuous brew Kombucha, there’s a lovely delicacy to Jun tea that Kombucha lacks.  Where Kombucha is forceful, Jun is soft.  Where Kombucha is dark, Jun is light.  At once they oppose each other, yet they are also very alike.

The Myth and Mystery of Jun Tea

Jun tea is shielded behind a veil of secrecy, myth, mysticism and mystery.  For many brewers, Jun tea is more than a probiotic tonic of green tea and honey; rather, it’s an ancient spiritual elixir.   Some brewers take their Jun tea so seriously that they play music  to it and meditate with it as it brews (I’m not kidding).

The oft-repeated legend of Jun cites its origins as the Himalayas, where it is brewed by monks and spiritual warrior nomads who roam the high grasslands of Tibet, or so the stories go.  And the stories are repeated, and repeated, and Jun continues to be a secret thing, enveloped in mystery and mysticism.

While stories about the sacred elixir of Jun are handed from person to person, there’s  little concrete and verifiable information about the history or origins of Jun tea.  Eager to learn something, even a little bit, more than internet myth, I took to my books, and again, I found nothing about Jun.  A scholarly book on Himalayan ferments reveals no results for Jun, and another on worldwide ferments also reveals nothing about Jun.   Further, I live in a high mountain community with many immigrants from Nepal and Tibet, and when I asked them about Jun, they had no idea what I was talking about.  That’s neither here nor there, for they had no frame of reference for kombucha either.

I’m still left wanting, and I’m not alone.  About Jun tea, Sandor Katz writes in The Art of Fermentation:

The lack of credible information on Jun leads me to the conclusion that it is a relatively recent divergence from the Kombucha family tree.  Some websites claim that it comes from Tibet, where it has been made for 1,000 years; unfortunately, books on Tibetan food, and even a specialized book on Himalayan ferments, contain no mention of it.  Whether or not it has a 1,000-year-old history, it is quite delicious.

The oft-repeated mystical lore that surrounds Jun leaves me to wonder, why do we need the justification of “sacredness” to enjoy what is, quite simply, a beautiful and delicate drink?

How Jun Tea and Kombucha Tea Differ

So, if Jun tea has unreliable origins, you might wonder just how it differs from kombucha, if it really does differ and why it’s worth brewing at all.  Whether Jun tea is a new divergence from Kombucha, as Sandor Katz posits, or if the myth and lore is true and it really is a 1,000-year old ferment, the simple truth is this: Jun differs from Kombucha in several key ways just as Matsoni, a type of room temperature yogurt, differs from Viili and Piima, and other types of room-temperature yogurt.

Jun tea ferments best in green tea sweetened by honey.  Kombucha tea ferments best in black tea sweetened by sugar.  Indeed, having tasted both Jun and Kombucha tea made with green tea and honey, there’s a distinct difference in flavor profile between the two. Jun is delicate and not as concretely sour as Kombucha (even kombucha brewed with green tea and honey).

In addition to both a difference in substrate and flavor, Jun typically completes its fermentation cycle faster than does Kombucha.  It reproduces daughter cultures with less reliability than Kombucha, and it ferments best at a lower temperature than Kombucha does – making Jun ideal for cool kitchens like mine that otherwise must rely on a heating pad to brew kombucha most effectively.

How to Make Jun Tea

To make Jun tea, you simply prepare a green tea, sweeten it with honey, and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the Jun mother culture and a bit of prepared Jun tea (both of which you can find here).  Allow this to sit, lightly covered with a tea towel to keep out stray debris, about 3 days before pouring into individual flip-top bottles (available here) for a secondary fermentation which will set Jun’s characteristic fizziness.

Where to Find a Jun Mother Culture

Jun tea is still relatively rare and unknown.  Jun mother cultures also do not reliably produce daughter cultures like Kombucha does.  You can purchase authentic Jun cultures online (mine is from Kombucha Kamp and you can find them here), or if you’re lucky enough to know someone who brews Jun, he or she may gift a daughter culture to you.

Jun Tea Mother Culture

Jun Tea

Jun Tea

Yield: 1/2 gallon

Jun Tea

Jun tea, like kombucha, is an effervescent probiotic drink. Jun is mild and delicate with a pleasantly tart flavor and a mild sweetness. It's lovely served over ice, or with crushed berries stirred in. To brew future batches of Jun tea, reserve 1/2 cup of the finished tea from your first batch and reserve the mother to start future batches of the tea.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Bring water to 165 F in a kettle. While the water comes to temperature, sprinkle the looseleaf green tea into a large jar or pitcher. Pour the hot water over the tea and allow it to steep for 2 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve into your fermentation vessel (I use this one.). Pour in the honey, and stir it until it dissolves completely in the tea. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature, 65 to 75 F, then dump the Jun culture into the jar and pour in the Jun tea. Allow the tea to ferment for 3 days at room temperature.
  2. After three days, the Jun tea should smell pleasantly sour and faintly sweet. Carefully remove the Jun culture and 1/2 cup Jun tea from the top of the jar, and dump them into a waiting jar. The Jun culture and tea are now ready for you to prepare a second batch of Jun.
  3. Pour the remaining Jun tea into 4 pint-sized flip-top bottles (available here, seal the bottles tightly and allow the Jun to ferment a second time for 2 to 3 days. After 2 to 3 days, your Jun tea is ready to drink. Place the bottles in the refrigerator to chill, or serve the Jun right away. Keep in mind that, like kombucha, Jun will fizz and foam when you open the bottles, so take care to open them over a sink.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-jun-tea/

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What people are saying

  1. Maria says

    well, does anyone in Europe have Jun Mother Culture? Kombucha is too strong for me, I think Jun will please me more.

  2. Rose says

    How long does the mother last? Does it need continuous fermentation or can you allow it to sleep (like kefir in the fridge) when on holidays or need a break? Very intriguing, most interesting!

    • Jenny says

      The mother will last indefinitely, I believe. It doesn’t require continuous fermentation. If you need to store it, you should store it in a SCOBY hotel. Kombucha and Jun scobys shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator.

  3. DebbieM says

    When I first started making Kombucha many years ago I made it using white tea and green tea as well. It is very different from black tea Kombucha, light and delicate. The general consensus in the family was that black was preferred, so I only use it. I personally preferred it with white tea.

  4. Annie says

    Can I make my own Jun mother scoby from scratch? I have made a Kombucha scoby and it turned out very nice. Is there a special recipe for it?

    • Jenny says

      Hi Annie – The only way to make a Jun mother from scratch would be to purchase unflavored Jun and hope it grows a scoby. Since Jun is not reliably available commercially, especially unflavored Jun, and Jun doesn’t reliably produce daughter cultures, I think you’d be better off just purchasing a scoby if you intend to make it.

  5. says

    Hi! This is a well written article, I was pleased to see my article on Elephant Journal about jun linked from the get go, but ABSOLUTELY shocked you recommend a 2nd ferment in flip top bottles.
    Jun is HIGHLY explosive.
    I recommend a 2nd ferment using an airlock in a carbuoy and once bottling, keeping refrigerated and hiccuping every few days, SEVERAL people have experienced jun bottles exploding on them even after kept in a refrigerator and hiccuped frequently. When Herbal Junctions ships they use plastic bottles.
    Jun doesn’t need to be considered sacred to be enjoyed, but its rare enough that it IS considered sacred and it is so superior to kombucha in jing baby! keep it alive!

  6. Ruth says

    Are the health benefits basically the same for Jun tea as they are for Kombucha? I’m very new to all of this and want to learn and understand as much as possible. Thank you.

  7. Kerri says

    Great article! I got a Jun Scoby from my cousin, and my daughter and I have been loving the hotel. My only problem is after my 1st successful brew, the subsequent brews have not been “bubbly”? I am not sure what I am doing wrong? Could it be my flip top bottles are not sealing properly? I also have been letting them ferment the first time for 10-14 days because that is the instructions I was given from my cousin who has successful batches every time!
    Thank you

    • Jenny says

      Kerri – I think the issue is that you’re brewing the initial batch for too long. It should brew for about 3 days.

  8. Jane says

    I wonder how the anti-bacterial elements of honey effect the fermentation? like, would it be stronger if it were made with maple syrup or another liquid sweetener?

    • Jenny says

      Jun is traditionally made with honey, and should be made only with honey. While honey does have antimicrobial properties, when diluted, honey will not adversely affect fermentation. If it did, mead, tjej and other honey ferments wouldn’t be possible. Stick with honey on this one.

    • Jenny says

      No. As I mentioned earlier in the article, the microbial structure of both jun and kombucha vary considerably. In order to make Jun, you should acquire a Jun culture. The difference between Jun and Kombucha is similar to the difference between villii and fil mjolk: they’re both cultured dairy foods, but their flavor profile is different and so is their microbial structure.

  9. judith scott says

    help! a friend gifted me a jun culture. it’s in great condition so i fermented it (so i thought).
    it sat for the requisite three days and i’ve now emptied the culture and some ‘brew’ into another container. it’s flat,jenny. am i waiting for the second ferment to make it fizzy? where have i gone wrong?
    i’ve googled for a bit more detail and have found nothing.
    also,i put a mason lid on the jar i used and not the mesh cloth i see so many people using..what say you?
    ugh.
    i want to make this pretty thing..

    • says

      If you covered your tea with a mason jar for the first ferment that may be part of the problem. I haven’t brewed a jun tea yet but it sounds quite similar in process to kombucha. The kombucha (and so it assuming the jun as well) requires air to ferment properly. By using a solid lid they probably were not getting the air they needed to do their thing. Try it again with a cloth or paper towel rubber banded over it and see what happens. And then it should be SLIGHTLY fizzy. To get it MORE fizzy requires a second fermentation which you do in a closed container (and a mason jar MAY not be the thing as they are designed to hold a vacuum inside rather than increased pressure, try it and see!) which allows it to push the carbon dioxide (which is a natural by-product of the fermentation) into solution and make it bubbly!

  10. Susan says

    I’ve been brewing my jun for a week, and it has a milky film at the top and my jun is at the bottom and I think maybe it’s molding? Does that happen? Should I throw it all out?? I’m totally bummed out , but don’t want to waste such an awesome thing.

  11. Becky says

    I’m trying this for the first time and have 2 questions. First, I’m on day 3 and I see I have another culture that is floating lower in my container (under the original one). Can I use that one to start another batch ? It’s not as thick as the original one so I’m not sure if it can be used or do I throw it out? The second question is about flavoring the tea . I wanted to add blueberries or strawberries. Do I just mash up a few fresh berries and put it in the bottles used for the 2nd fermentation ? How much/many would I use? Can I use juice? Thanks so much. I’m really having fun with this and want to get creative but I’m not sure what I can get away with and what would ruin the tea.

  12. Sarah Smart says

    I am brewing Kombucha on same shelf as Jun, inches away from each other. I use open top jars not closed continuos brewers. Does anyone think that the cultures may cross contaminate via the close proximity? Thoughts? I thought the flavor of my Kombucha changed slightly after starting to brew Jun.

    • Kara says

      I’m not an expert by ant means but I can tell you I had water kefir grains on the same shelf as my kombucha and they cross contaminated. My kefir grew stringy scoby! Read somewhere to keep ferments at least 4 ft from one another. Jun is so special I brew it up in another room!

      • Kathryn says

        Since kefir doesn’t need oxygen, you can ferment it anaerobically (in a closed container). That would greatly reduce the likelihood of cross contamination with the aerobically fermented kombucha, even if they are right next to each other on a shelf.

  13. Tammy says

    You forgot to specify that you must cool the tea BEFORE adding the honey, or you will kill off the beneficial bacteria in the raw honey. I would hate for anyone to have their Jun fail over the temp of their tea :)

    • Jenny says

      I do specify to cool the tea. Read the recipe thoroughly. And you should add the honey to the WARM tea so it dissolves easily. Honey is not a significant source of beneficial bacteria.

  14. Carolyn Kristof says

    Just opened my first bottle of jun today… omg…

    This is my new go to beverage. Don’t get me wrong, kombucha, I will not forsake you, but jun, you are a new best friend. Thank you so much Jenny for introducing us! LOL.

    ps. I tucked a teabag of a dried fruit combo in a bottle… we’ll have to see how that tastes tomorrow….. :)

  15. Heather Tate says

    Thanks for educating us all on Jun. It has been well recieved in our house. The kiddos like it better than Kombucha! Do you think Jun could be done in the continuous method? Can fruits and flavoring be added to Jun during the second ferment?

    • Becky says

      Heather , I have added fruits during second fermentation (blueberries, strawberries, black cherry juice and strawberry & lemon together ) with great success! I was here too to ask about continuous brewing. I haven’t been able to find any information on doing it with Jun, but I would love to try it ! I am LOVING Jun even more than Kombucha .

      • Juliana says

        Heather and Becky,

        Any luck on finding information re: continuous brewing of Jun? I much prefer the continuous method but I too have been unable to find anything. I imagine it wouldn’t be too different from continuous kombucha as long as you allow for the extra fermentation time? If anybody has tried this, please let me know!

        Thanks :)

  16. Yvonne says

    Your mention of praying with Jun reminds me of Dr. Emoto’s rice experiment. Easily Googled, but the idea is that with three jars of rice he spoke to one positively, one negatively and completely ignored one for a period of time. If the results he reported are at all correct, then maybe a good idea to pray with your jun!

  17. Liz Pratt says

    Emma Blue scared me with her warning about exploding bottles. If you use an air lock, wouldn’t that let all the fizz out? Also, can you continuous brew jun tea? I am very interested in brewing jun.

    • Jenny says

      Yep – an airlock will take the fizz out. I’ve never had a bottle of Jun explode, and never a bottle of kombucha (though it does happen). With a flip-top bottle, it will usually force the top to flip, instead of shattering the bottle. It is rare, rare, rare, but does happen.

  18. Tammy says

    Hello from Canada, Jenny!

    I’m absolutely loving your book. It is beautiful and inspiring. I respect your refreshing philosophy on food. And of course, the recipes are fantastic; made some herbed cheese the other day and it was delicious on homemade pizza.

    I received my jun scoby a few days ago from Hannah at Kombacha Kamp. She provided a wealth of information in emails and a little directions pack with my order. I plan on continuously brewing my jun. I also plan to flavour some of my bottles with ingestible essential oils for increased health benefits. We will see how it goes.

    Thanks for everything!

    • Heather says

      I am just getting started with Jun, but would love to start adding flavor story the 2nd ferment. Essential oils would be a great idea! Which ones were you thinking?

  19. Tammy says

    I just finished the second ferment with lemongrass oil. It tastes pretty good! A little goes a very long way. Tangerine would be wonderful, I think!
    I’ve noticed more carbonation in jars that I’ve added sugar (dried cranberries, pure blueberry juice, lemon and ginger).
    I got a baby from the first brew and am going to experiment in a new jar with flavoured green teas like cherry rose sencha. We’ll see how it goes!

  20. A-L says

    I’m brewing my second batch of Jun, it’s been brewing for about 3 days now and I have started drinking it. Today I noticed a Scoby forming. Do I just leave the Jun alone and wait for the scoby to finish forming or can I continue to drink the Jun?

  21. says

    Gosh Jenny sometimes people can be weird when all you are offering is a service of information – get with the program, the lady that goes off about the recommending of flip top bottles and that = to explosion, not cool Gee people give Jenny a break, she is politely answering as many of the questions as she can, she continues to offer a comprehensive service on all these traditional techniques, as someone that also teaches people about fermenting, sometimes you just need to have a good read of the info and then trust your instinct, what’s the worst thing, as long as you are careful and follow the instructions offered….use some commonsense…eyes won’t be lost –

    My thanks for being advised that the awesome Hannah has some cultures, while i am in australia i think i may be able to still receive one as last time i bought a Ktea scoby it was checked and still cleared the very tough Aussie customs…
    It is still relatively a secret so i hope to integrate Jun into my repertoire post haste!

    Thanks for your awesome work Jenny – i am a big fan of your work

    Shakti x

  22. Jenny says

    Hi.

    Thanks for all the wonderful information. I started my jun 2 days ago. I can see a thin SCOBY forming on top, but there is a ton of sediment in the bottom of both jars. Is this normal? My regular continuous brew Kombucha vessels do have a little sediment in the bottom, but nothing compared to the jun. Should I be concerned? Also I did not cool the tea at all before adding the honey. I will next time, but you think it will negatively impact this brew? Thank you so much xoxoxox

  23. A-L says

    I just brewed a new large batch of Jun, it’s been brewing for 3 days, but it tastes like vinegar…what am I doing wrong? I brewed a baby one too and it does not have this problem.

    • June says

      jun likes cooler temperatures than Kombucha. If it is too warm, it will turn vinegary very quickly. Try to find a spot where the temps don’t go over 75 degrees.

  24. Kim says

    How is Jun different than water kefir? It’s light too and I prefer it to kombucha. As with all fermented beverages with a starter- when do you decide it (grains)have reproduced enough that you can divide in half and have another batch going at the same time?

  25. says

    In the name of Allah,
    Hello and thank you for your informative site. I am writing to you from Iran. We managed to buy kefir grains a few months ago and it’s magnificent. But the only SCOBY that I could find for sale was Kombucha. They do not seem to offer the Jun version which works with green tea and honey.
    Can I buy a kombucha scoby and accustom it to the new diet of green tea and honey?
    I will be most thankful for your help.

  26. Anja says

    Hey beautiful people,
    I have been looking for a Jun scoby for a while- I’m in Australia. Any advice on where I could obtain one? My search so far has been fruitless :(

  27. Sofia says

    Hello there Jenni. I was wondering what other tea can be used to brew the jun? I have been brweing with gunpowder greentea and I would like to experiment with ginger green tea. Would flavored green tea damage the jun? Any information from you guys is welcome? Thanks!

    • Jenny says

      I think any green tea should work, though I’d be careful of using flavored teas and would, instead, add flavoring to the second ferment.

  28. says

    I was so intrigued with your Jun article that I ordered a culture from Kombucha Kamp right away. The first brew (using Hannah’s special Green Goddess Tea sampler) turned out like pure ambrosia–heady, fizzy, with a lingering honeyed flavor. It took 7 days to get it fully fermented, and it produced a new scoby. For the second batch I used some organic green tea bags I had on hand–and after 7 days I tasted it (Kombucha Kamp said to ferment for 3-7 days) and it was pure sour, with a very different (and not pleasing) flavor, but had produced another new scoby. Now the third batch I wanted to catch in that “honeymoon” period, so I tasted it at 3 days–too sweet–and let it go another 2 days, but by then it just had a faint hint left of that initial Jun ambrosia that I so loved. Do you think that the variety of green tea I’m using has made the difference in flavor? I’d like to get the brew back to that wonderful tasting elixir that I started with.

  29. Michelle says

    Why heat water to 165, and not to a boil? Another set of instructions I have read that say to boil it for 2 minutes, then make a tea and cool. Also, some recommend as much as 5 tea bags per 8 cups of water rather than 2. It’s funny, instructions for this brew vary much more than they do for kombucha…which are pretty consistent. Would appreciate any comments!

  30. Jane says

    Hi Jenny,
    I have brown bottles, can I use them for the second brew instead of clear, will that be a problem?
    Thank you for this article I am looking forward to ordering my scoby.

  31. Kathryn says

    What is it in honey that feeds the Jun culture? I don’t eat honey, but am interested in trying Jun. Would the honey substitutes made out of concentrated apple juice work? Or is there some special ‘something’ in honey that nothing else can emulate?

  32. June says

    In all fairness to Tammy’s comment about when to add the honey, I read your instructions ” thoroughly”, and you did not say to cool the tea before adding the honey.
    ” Pour in the honey, and stir it until it dissolves completely in the tea. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature, 65 to 75 F, then dump the Jun culture into the jar and pour in the Jun tea.”
    You tell us to cool the tea after you have told us to add the honey.
    Also, honey does contain up to 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria.
    “All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide,” said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
    Lastly, Jun has been found to be an anaerobic culture. Unlike Konbucha( needs Oxygen to thrive), Jun likes a closed environment. An airlock system is excellent for brewing Jun.
    Happy brewing!

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