How to Make Jun Tea: Kombucha Champagne (Recipe plus Video!)

by Sarah Fermented Beverages, VideosComments: 33

Jun Tea is Kombucha Champagne

I was gifted my very first Jun tea culture in recent months from a friend who told me that he seemed to digest it even better than the fermented drink known as kombucha.

I was excited to learn of a ferment made with honey and green tea instead of black tea and sugar, which is what you use when making kombucha.

The reason?

In 2001, shortly after I first began brewing kombucha, a Chinese friend who came to dinner told me her mother had made a very similar drink when she was a child growing up in Guangdong Province. The difference? Her mother made the ferment with green tea and honey.

Ever since that night, I’ve been intrigued by this mysterious ferment. Now I know it was very likely Jun tea.

The History of Jun Tea

Jun is widely found today in western Tibet (the number one place on my bucket list to visit someday) although it’s actual history is shrouded in rumor and mystery.

Some Jun dealers claim that the earliest writings about Jun tea date back to 600 B.C. in Northeast China where the elixir was valued for its ability to open energy (chi) in the body and increase circulation. Unfortunately, no source for these “earliest writings” is actually given.

Jun cultures are precious and a bit hard to find to say the least. “Heirloom” Jun cultures are apparently so rare, in fact, that there have been robberies of Jun cultures reported by specialty fermentation dealers in recent years with distribution of daughter cultures of the stolen originals ending up in Hawaii in Colorado.

Jun Tea vs Kombucha

To say that I am in love with this lighter, faster brewing cousin of kombucha would be an understatement! Let’s examine some of the similarities and differences between these cousin ferments.

Jun tea uses slightly less tea and sweetener than kombucha

Where a full gallon of kombucha typically uses 4-5 teaspoons of black tea and 1-1.5 cups sugar, a gallon of Jun requires 4 teaspoons of green tea and 1 cup of honey, ideally locally sourced and raw.

This means that Jun tea would be free of any potential disaccharide residues from the white sugar and hence friendly to those on the GAPS Diet.

Steeping and brewing times are shorter for Jun tea

The (loose) green tea used to make Jun is steeped for only two minutes, whereas for kombucha, steeping time is normally 10 minutes.  Brew time is also shorter for Jun – 6 days versus 7 days minimum for kombucha.

This results in a lower caffeine final brew (if any is left at all) with lower potential fluoride content as well if lower quality and/or nonorganic tea is used for budget reasons.

Jun brews better at cooler temperatures

According to my friends at Kombucha Kamp, the ideal brewing temperature for Jun tea is between 68-77 F (20-25 C).   For kombucha, the temperature range for optimal brewing is 78-85 F (25.5-29 C).

As a result, depending on the temperature of your home, either Jun tea or kombucha may make more sense depending on the seasonal effect.

Budget Alert: Jun is more expensive to make

On the downside, brewing Jun tea is significantly more expensive than kombucha.  However, it is still far cheaper than buying bottled kombucha from the store.

While I brew kombucha for around 25 cents per quart, the cost of a quart of home brewed Jun tea is about $2.50, 10 times as much!

The difference in cost is primarily due to the higher price of quality honey as compared to the cane sugar used to make kombucha.

Jun tea is more alcoholic than kombucha

In addition to the increased cost, Jun tea is more alcoholic (around 2%), with kombucha clocking in at .5% for a typical batch.

The increased alcohol content makes Jun tea inappropriate for children. In addition, it is not advisable for consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Kombucha, on the other hand, is a ferment I enjoyed all throughout pregnancy and lactation and allowed my children to sip in small amounts starting around age 2.

Should You Try Jun Tea?

If you have never made kombucha or other home ferments before, I suggest you start with kombucha as it is far less expensive to make and failure of a batch or two won’t cost you much.

On the other hand, if you are experienced at home ferments, give Jun tea, the champagne of kombucha, a try!

Who knows?  You might end up a Jun-kie!

Where to Find a Jun Tea Culture and Starter

Unfortunately, not that many folks brew Jun tea yet, so it is hard to find someone in your community who can share a culture and some starter with you. This situation will likely improve in the coming years, but for now, I would suggest buying an authentic Jun culture and starter from Kombucha Kamp.  My friends Hannah and Alex will take good care of you and guarantee a full potency culture that is always fresh, never dehydrated or frozen. This is where my culture hails from.

Below is a 3 minute video which overviews the Jun Tea making process along with the written recipe.  Enjoy!

How to Make Jun Tea (Kombucha Champagne)

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

1 gallon filtered spring water

1 cup honey, preferably raw and locally sourced (I use this brand if local honey is not available)

4 tsp loose, organic green tea (I use this brand)

1 Jun culture (available here)

1 cup Jun tea starter (from a previous batch or purchase it here)

Instructions

Heat the water to 165 F/74 C in a large pot.  Use a frying or candy thermometer to check the water is not too hot (I use this one).

Hint: Do not boil the water like when making kombucha.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Place 4 tsp loose tea in a stainless steel tea mesh (I use this one) and hook to the side of the pot.

Let steep for 2 minutes.

Remove tea mesh and pour hot tea into fermentation vessel (I use these).

Stir in honey and let mixture come to room temperature.

Stir in starter and stir to mix.  Place Jun tea culture on top.  Cover with a clean, white tea towel or floursack cloth (like these) and secure with a large rubber band.

Place in a quiet room (the top of a bureau in a guest bedroom or the top of a file cabinet in a home office are perfect. Ideally, not the top of the refrigerator or other appliances as the EMFs will weaken the Jun culture over time).

Leave for 3-6 days.

Harvest after 3 days if you wish to bottle the Jun tea for 3 more days for additional fizziness (see this video for the how-to) or leave for 6 full days if you don’t intend to bottle.

Place Jun cultures in a glass jar or bowl with sufficient brewed Jun tea to cover and reserve in the refrigerator for your next batch.

Bottled Jun tea should be always be  very cold and opened in the sink to prevent accidental fizzing over onto the counter and floors.

Finished Jun tea should be stored in the refrigerator in clear glass only. No plastic, no enamel, no colored glass.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Sources and More Information

Jun: A Fermented Elixir
How to Make Jun Tea
Fluoride in Kombucha: Should You Be Concerned?
Have You tried Kombucha Tea?
Switchel: Nature’s Healthy Gatorade
Can Candida Sufferers Drink Kombucha?
Kombucha: What it is and How to Make it (plus video how-to’s)
Does Kombucha Prevent Grey Hair?
Batch vs Continuous Brew Kombucha

Comments (33)

  • Sherry

    This is my first time making Jun tea. A friend gave me a starter culture. My question is about the raw honey, which I have. I am not wanting to kill the enzymes in the raw honey, so will add it to the tea water after it has cooled below ll7 degrees (minimum). Will the enzymes interfere with the culturing process of the Jun tea? If heating the honey is a necessary part of the process, I can use some local honey that is heated to 119 degrees and add it just after the tea is strained. In light of your recent article about heated honey being detrimental to health, I am wondering about your thoughts on this. Thanks!

    April 1st, 2016 3:35 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      My article on heating honey specifies to keep it at or under 117F and you are fine. Same principle for people who use honey in their tea … just be sure the tea isn’t too hot. Just test your jun tea water to be sure it isn’t too hot before stirring the honey into the tea water :) Hope that helps.
      http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/is-cooking-honey-unhealthy/

      April 2nd, 2016 8:28 am Reply
  • Istan

    I just brewed my first Jun Tea batch, Im happy but the flavor is more sour (vinagry?) than expected and its not fizzy at all. For the first fermentation I let it sit for 6 days, temperature was around 70, then bottled it and left it for almost two days before putting in the freezer…I guess I should bottle it before day 5 if I want to decrease the sourness? What do you think happened with the carbonation (lack of)? I used the real-deal bottles! Thanks!

    March 4th, 2016 9:07 pm Reply
    • Steve

      Hi Istan,

      6 days does not seem to be too long for it too become too vinegary. I add a little fruit and ginger depending on my mood just before the secondary ferment, 1 to 2 tsp per 16 oz bottle. The added sugar in the fruit is a little tonic for the yeast to kick start. I leave the bottles at room temperature for two to three days before putting in the fridge. Also, did you taste test the jun at 6 days before bottling?

      Good luck,
      Steve

      April 9th, 2016 11:30 am Reply
  • Erik

    Why not colored glass?

    February 15th, 2016 11:27 pm Reply
  • Clare

    Hi, just wondering why jun is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women? Is it purely because of alcohol content? Thanks

    January 30th, 2016 2:44 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Because it is alcoholic.

      January 30th, 2016 9:02 am Reply
  • Theresa P.

    Hi, this is all very interesting. I have learned a lot. When storing your Jun scoby in Jun tea in a clear glass container in the refrigerator do you put a tight fitting lid on it? and does that lid have to be metal or plastic? does it build pressure that has to be released every day or so? also, is that how you keep a Jun scoby hotel or is the hotel suppose to be kept at room temperature? and do you have to refresh this hotel with freshly brewed tea and honey and if so how often? sorry for so many questions just very interested. Thanks, for sharing.

    September 14th, 2015 4:53 pm Reply
  • fern

    Is it normal for the jun tea to be a little thicker…almost syrupy? Am I going to gag on the consistency when I finally try this stuff?

    August 27th, 2015 11:45 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      It really should not be thicker … the same consistency as kombucha is how mine turns out.

      August 27th, 2015 12:04 pm Reply
  • Rachel Murray

    Isn’t it best to let the tea cool more before stirring in the raw honey? Isn’t the point of using raw honey so you can maintain the live microbes? In which case, wouldn’t they be killed by the hot water?

    May 4th, 2015 11:01 am Reply
    • Kevin G

      You are correct Rachel. I raise bees and anything warmer than about 98 degrees will destroy your honey and make it the same as the crap honey you buy at Walmart. When I give friends honey I always suggest they use the cheap stuff in hot tea because the heat kills all the enzymes and just wastes good honey.

      August 4th, 2015 12:07 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    Hi Sarah, I’ve been trying to figure out when I can start feeding my daughter lacto-fermented drinks and kombucha. How young can you start a child on these beverages and how much should they have a day?

    April 17th, 2015 7:15 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Jun tea is not appropriate for children at any age. Other fermented drinks like beet kvass etc can be started in small amounts after one year. Don’t let them drink as much as they want.

      April 17th, 2015 8:25 pm Reply
  • Jessica

    I never make tea myself, and i don’t even know what kombucha is!

    April 16th, 2015 11:47 pm Reply
  • Dawn

    None of your links actually take you to the Jun starter. Glad I read the comments. Also wondering about continuous brew and how I figure out how much starter I require…1 per gallon??

    April 4th, 2015 1:46 pm Reply
  • Mirian

    I’ve used Japanese green tea with a regular scoby and I usually use less sugar and my place is 19 degrees Celsius. Ferment may take 10 days or more but I get a cleaner clearer tasting kombucha than when I use black tea.

    April 3rd, 2015 12:45 am Reply
  • Emma

    I prepare my jun using a continuous brew method, so I top up with about a litre each day and also remove a litre. I rarely refrigerate it, I either drink it straight or do a second ferment with added fruit (eg. lemon and ginger) and leave it on the bench for a day before drinking. Because of the continuous brew, it is always ‘on tap’, so my family can help themselves whenever they want some.

    April 2nd, 2015 9:08 pm Reply
  • Robin

    i have been brewing jun tea for a few years. I received my scoby from a kumbucha facebook group. I use the continuous brew method.
    I was taught never to refrigerat scobys. They will die.

    April 2nd, 2015 3:07 pm Reply
  • David Lee

    Sorry to correct you, but all tea made from camellia sinensis contains tannins.

    Quote from the people at Wikipedia:
    Optimum brewing temperature depends on tea type. Camellia sinensis naturally contains tannins having bitter properties accentuated by both temperature and steeping time. These tannins are enhanced by oxidation during processing. Teas with little or no oxidation, such as a green or white, are best at lower temperatures between 65 and 85 °C (149 and 185 °F), while more oxidized teas require 100 °C (212 °F) to extract their large, complex, flavourful phenolic molecules.

    April 1st, 2015 8:59 pm Reply
    • Cris

      I would take a “correction” from Wikipedia with a grain of salt. :-) It’s my understanding that there are fewer tannins in white and green tea than black. That’s why black tea keeps a kombucha SCOBY healthier than just white or green tea. I use a combo of all three in my kombucha.

      I’m so new to Jun that I’m waiting on my first batch’s second ferment. Watermelon soda will be enjoyed in a day or two! :-)

      August 8th, 2015 11:27 am Reply
  • David Lee

    You should mention that tap water may cause serious problems with Jun Tea or kombucha. Here where I live tap water = mold. Also, as a tea connoisseur, for best flavor, not a good idea to brew any tea for more than 5 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll make it bitter. Lived in Asia for 2 years — as I recall apple cider vinegar can also be used as a starter. Since you’re into health food: Here’s a tip: Green plantains (resistant starch activates butyrate) cannot be digested; thus, they’re a great base for making smoothies; furthermore, if you add 3 ozs. of extra virgin olive oil to smoothie, then you,ll cut your inflammation by 40%. Add 2 tbs. pulverized flax seed and you’ll be nearly immune to colon cancer. Sweeten with Stevia; use cinnamon, fresh ginger, lemon juice and flavor extracts for taste.

    April 1st, 2015 8:45 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The recipe calls for filtered water :)

      April 1st, 2015 10:18 pm Reply
  • Deb

    I make continuous brew kombucha, which makes it so easy. Can you do continuous brew with jun also?

    Thanks

    March 31st, 2015 8:36 pm Reply
  • Niki

    Hi, why should you only use clear glass to store the finished Jun in fridge? I only have pop top green glass bottles.

    March 31st, 2015 8:20 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The color in the glass may be made of questionable ingredients and kombucha and Jun tea are capable of drawing these toxins into the ferment. Best to play it safe and only ever use clear glass for these beverages unless you can be completely sure of the source of the glass.

      March 31st, 2015 8:27 pm Reply
      • David Lee

        Glass:
        The only concern is heavy metal used for coloring; e.g., lead.
        For that reason, most food manufacturers (including olive oil companies) use various known metals that have been proven to be safe. Green is one of those that has a track record of being safe and considered necessary to preserve oleocanthal in olive oil. Due to this track record many beer companies use green bottles for old goats my age.
        P.S. If you want nutrition info in private — let me know and I’ll provide a private email.

        April 1st, 2015 9:20 pm Reply
  • Kate

    I have been making green tea kombucha for a very long time. AND I only use 3/4 cup sugar. It brews beautifully. The taste is light and quenching.

    March 31st, 2015 4:42 pm Reply
  • Erika

    Hi! I’ve heard that honey shouldn’t be used in fermented beverages because of its antibacterial properties. Does the honey not kill the bacteria? Thanks for your help in understanding!

    March 31st, 2015 12:05 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, honey is anti-bacterial for pathogens but it ferments just fine with a beneficial Jun tea culture.

      March 31st, 2015 8:08 am Reply
  • bee

    When I brewed kombucha, I played around with the recipe. I came to the realization that I liked half grean tea and half black tea. So you don’t necessarily have to use black tea. I never thought about using honey though! Thanks!

    March 30th, 2015 10:50 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I also use half black and half green when I make kombucha and have for years. The cultures are different between kombucha and Jun tea though … it’s not just a matter of using green tea only and raw honey. Also, with a kombucha culture, you must use at least 1 oz black tea per gallon of water … the culture needs the tannins whereas a Jun tea culture does not.

      March 30th, 2015 11:44 am Reply
      • Lynn

        I have been brewing about 7-8 gallons of kombucha per week and only rarely have I used black tea. Black tea is not essential with kombucha. I also brew jun though I can’t say that I have found it as wonderful as I have seen claimed. As noted above, honey should be added to cool-ish tea so as not to destroy the wonderful properties of the honey.

        November 24th, 2015 3:23 pm Reply

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