Making Jun Tea and Boozy Jun

Jun tea is a fermented beverage made with green tea and honey. It is closely related to kombucha and is not considered an alcoholic beverage if it is at or under 0.5% ABV. If it’s non-alcoholic, then why are we writing about it on a website about mead? Because it doesn’t have to be non-alcoholic and can be made more like a mead, that’s why. Plus it’s delicious and has possible probiotic and other health benefits.

Differences between Jun and Kombucha

Both jun and kombucha use a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to achieve fermentation. You can see this floating on top in the pictures. It is basically a cellulose substrate created by the bacteria and serves as a barrier between the air above and fermenting jun below. What really separates jun from kombucha is the flavor, sugar source, and fermentation temperature & time.

Jun has a smoother, lighter flavor and the SCOBY needs to be fed honey, prefers a cooler environment (70° - 80°F), and ferments faster (3-6 days).

Kombucha has a stronger, bolder flavor and the SCOBY needs to be fed table sugar, prefers a little warmer environment (75° - 85°F), and ferments slower (7-30 days).

You can “train” a kombucha SCOBY to work with green tea and honey, but they are different cultures and I’ve had the best success just starting with a jun SCOBY/culture. Here’s the one that I started with on Kombucha Kamp. I am also usually offering them to people because it multiplies with every batch.

When Jun and Mead Collide

After a batch of jun is ready to drink, you can just enjoy it as is, add some flavor, or start an additional alcoholic fermentation. I refer to the last option as a boozy jun or jun mead. The basic process starts with the jun and adding addition honey, some water, and yeast.

I have just started experimenting with this variety of meads but am very pleased with the results thus far. The end product has a wonderful honey flavor and aroma, accentuated with just the right amount of acidity to balance the honey and make the drink incredibly refreshing. This boozy jun is part of my large plan to combine the best of mead, wine, cider, beer, and tonic-beverage making into fascinating new beverages for people to enjoy. There will be more written about other experiments here and exclusives sent to those on the email list in the future.

Jun Tea Recipe

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons loose leaf green tea
  • 1 cup honey, preferably raw and unfiltered
  • 1 jun SCOBY
  • 1 cup jun tea, taken off the top of a previous batch

Instructions

  1. Bring a little less than 1 gallon of filtered water to 165° - 175°F in a stockpot. While the water comes to temp, measure the tea into a large infuser. Place the infuser into the water and steep for 2 minutes. Remove infuser and allow tea to cool to room temperature. Stir in the honey.
  2. Transfer sweetened tea to the glass fermentation vessel. Add the reserved jun tea and jun SCOBY. Top up with filtered water till vessel is filled to the underside of the rim. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and secure in place with a rubber band. Allow to ferment for 6 days at room temperature.
  3. Carefully remove the SCOBY and 2 cups of jun from the top of the jar for the next batch. Pour the remaining jun into glass jugs and place into the refrigerator to chill. Enjoy.

Notes

Jun can be transferred to flip-top bottles halfway through the 6-day fermentation if you would like them to be carbonated. Jun tends to get really fizzy though and can create exploding bottles (“bottle bombs”) if you’re not careful. Try starting with 1-2 days in the flip-tops at room temperature and then refrigerate. I prefer to drink jun without carbonation, so I just skip all this.

I am not a health professional, nor do I pretend to be. Please consult your doctor before altering your alcohol consumption habits. Do not consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. Do not drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly!