Why You Need to Know About Jun Kombucha

Updated on April 4, 2017
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Gut health and digestion has been a passion of Jared's for more than 5 years. This has led to creating a line of probiotic foods & drinks

Jun SCOBY

Jun kombucha is good for you
Jun kombucha is good for you

What exactly is Jun Kombucha?

If you have been drinking or brewing kombucha for a while, you've probably begun to hear the stories and rumblings of a new type of fermented tea that is honey-based and not the typical granulated sugar -based combination found in the beverage aisle of most health-food stores. Add to that the numerous smoke-and-mirror stories circulating around the internet, and you have a probiotic rich drink that has an aura of mystique built around something right out of the Wizard-of-Oz.

I've had almost a year brewing Jun, and it seems the more I prepare it, the more intrigued I become. Dare I say it's captivating my attention? It's easy to make, really forgiving if you accidentally ferment it for too long, and it keeps that sweet smell and nectar-like qualities of the honey. What's more, with all of the restorative advantages of honey, it's really hard not to gravitate towards using and drinking this gut-healthy bacterial drink.

Being one to have tasted several dozen varieties of the typical sugar-fermented kombucha, one of the most interesting aspects of making and distributing typical kombucha with sugar is the way that the taste and production can fluctuate from batch to batch. The range of being absolutely delectable to that of what is unpalatable is huge. Some can be lumped into a class of twinge-and-cringe-worthy, so much so that it can make your mouth pucker with just the thought of it. But whether you are of the camp that says this happens because of using sugar and (generally) black tea, I can say in my experience, this fluctuation is less prevalent when brewing jun kombucha. In those instances where the honey-based kombucha has fermented a bit longer than it needed to be, the flavor profile still is more crisp and tasty than it's sugared friend.

So when I first obtained my SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts), I was enlightened from the start. When you actually compare the flavor profiles of using sugar versus honey, sugar doesn't stand a chance. Sugar simply adds sweetness to a food. I don't know too many people that can taste the differences in whether the sugar was processed in Hawaii, Louisiana, or some other remote location, or a different bouquets of the cane field. You can also add that sugar has no nutritional or health-improving qualities, unlike it's bee-producing friend. Honey is incredibly complex and provides different tastes based on location, flowers harvested, and time of year and also contains a large number of layers to it, including yeasts, acids, vitamins and cancer prevention agents. The bottom line is there is a more appealing quality in the flavor, fragrance, and various immune-boosting prospects of honey that are unique and when used to brew kombucha that are heads-and-shoulders above using traditional sugar.

Raw Versus Processed Honey

At most of my workshops, I will receive one or two questions regarding what types of honey I choose to use when brewing. What I have found is you can actually use raw, unfiltered, or processed honey and receive the same results of a tasty brew. Ultimately, however, your choices will come down to cost and your budget. I do use less honey by volume than sugar (¾ the amount of honey to sugar), so if keeping finances really under control, processed honey is generally the least expensive.

Moving up the economic ladder, I try to use raw honey. And although raw honey will have more unfiltered items, dust, bits of honeycomb, propolis, and sometimes even a few bits of honey-parts in it, I enjoy the taste much more. But if you are like me and use honey and believe in its health benefits, these actually are pluses, not negatives. I have used all types and varieties of honey and have found that from a taste standpoint, the raw honey is more enjoyable and adds a unique layer of taste. After taking a sip, if I take a few moments to focus on the flavors (like savoring a wine), I have found I could actually imagine the tastes of a large clover patch or flowers in a country field or garden.

Moving up the economic ladder, I try to use raw honey. And although raw honey will have more unfiltered items, dust, bits of honeycomb, propolis, and sometimes even a few bits of honey-parts in it, I enjoy the taste much more. But if you are like me and use honey and believe in its health benefits, these actually are pluses, not negatives. I have used all types and varieties of honey and have found that from a taste standpoint, the raw honey is more enjoyable and adds a unique layer of taste. After taking a sip, if I take a few moments to focus on the flavors (like savoring a wine), I have found I could actually imagine the tastes of a large clover patch or flowers in a country field or garden.

Moving up the economic ladder, in most instances, I try to use raw honey. And although raw honey will have more unfiltered items, dust, bits of honeycomb, propolis, and sometimes even a few bits of honey-parts in it, I enjoy the taste much more. But if you are like me and use honey and believe in its health benefits, these actually are pluses, not negatives. I have used all types and varieties of honey and have found that from a taste standpoint, the raw honey is more enjoyable and adds a unique layer of taste. After taking a sip, if I take a few moments to focus on the flavors (like savoring a wine), I have found I could actually imagine the tastes of a large clover patch or flowers in a country field or garden.


Is raw honey better for brewing Jun kombucha?

Raw honey has more beneficial properties and is better absorbed by Jun kombucha
Raw honey has more beneficial properties and is better absorbed by Jun kombucha

I have used all types and varieties of honey and have found that from a taste standpoint, the raw honey is more enjoyable and adds a unique layer of taste. After taking a sip, if I take a few moments to focus on the flavors (like savoring a wine), I have found I could actually imagine the tastes of a large clover patch or flowers in a country field or garden.

I do use less honey by volume than sugar (¾ the amount of honey to sugar), so if keeping finances really under control, processed honey is generally the least expensive. Moving up the economic ladder, I try to use raw honey. And although raw honey will have more unfiltered items, dust, bits of honeycomb, propolis, and sometimes even a few bits of honey-parts in it, I enjoy the taste much more. But if you are like me and use honey and believe in its health benefits, these actually are pluses, not negatives.

Using all types and varieties of honey, I have found that from a taste standpoint, the raw honey is more enjoyable and adds a unique layer of taste. If I take a few moments to focus on the flavors (like savoring a wine) after taking a sip, I have found I could actually imagine the tastes of a large clover patch or flowers in a country field or garden.

And as with every kombucha, the sugars you use (honey or crystallized sugar) contributes to how quickly the kombucha gets fed and nourished. From a physiological standpoint, you would think the purer the sugar the easier it would be for the kombucha to break it down and use it for food. If you use refined and processed sugar, there are impurities generally added and the raw components have been taken out. Just like a human body, the more unnatural the ingredients, the harder it is for the body to break it down and either uses it for fuel or discard it as waste.

On the other end, the more quickly a sugar is broken down, the easier it would be for your body to have a negative reaction to the immediate influx of sugars. Once you compare that to a sugar like rapadura (with its molasses basis still intact) or demerara sugar (more refined, but retains its original flavor), you might find that the biggest obstacles would be time and temperature. Although the dark and smoky undertones of these sugars contribute to the overall flavor, there are plenty of stories of people who cannot get their kombucha SCOBY to grow and thrive where these types of sugars are used or that it takes significantly longer to brew, creating a greater chance to sour.

Digging a bit deeper, it might be concluded that the presence of molasses might be the stumbling block in getting a perfectly fine batch of brew. Just like honey, molasses has some nutritional benefits, the darker the molasses generally indicates that less of these impurities are taken out. And if you don't have a healthy SCOBY from the beginning or is not feed adequately, this might not bode well for a tasty booch brew.

In my experience of brewing Jun kombucha with honey, it hasn't shown any signs of negatively or has affected the process time and slowed it down in any way. As a matter of fact, my SCOBYs using honey are continuously propagating and are thick and hearty. And if you have brewed kombucha for any length of time, you'd find that this means that you have more SCOBYs than what you know what to do and give them away quite frequently.

The less the ingredients in your sugar, the easier it is for the kombucha to use as food.
The less the ingredients in your sugar, the easier it is for the kombucha to use as food.

And as with every kombucha, the sugars you use (honey or crystallized sugar) contributes to how quickly the kombucha gets fed and nourished. From a physiological standpoint, you would think the purer the sugar the easier it would be for the kombucha to break it down and use it for food. If you use refined and processed sugar, there are impurities generally added and the raw components have been taken out.

Just like a human body, the more unnatural the ingredients, the harder it is for the body to break it down and either uses it for fuel or discard it as waste. On the other end, the more quickly a sugar is broken down, the easier it would be for your body to have a negative reaction to the immediate influx of sugars. Once you compare that to a sugar like rapadura (with its molasses basis still intact) or demerara sugar (more refined, but retains its original flavor), you might find that the biggest obstacles would be time and temperature. Although the dark and smoky undertones of these sugars contribute to the overall flavor, there are plenty of stories of people who cannot get their kombucha SCOBY to grow and thrive where these types of sugars are used or that it takes significantly longer to brew, creating a greater chance to sour.

Digging a bit deeper, it might be concluded that the presence of molasses might be the stumbling block in getting a perfectly fine batch of brew. Just like honey, molasses has some nutritional benefits, the darker the molasses generally indicates that less of these impurities are taken out. And if you don't have a healthy SCOBY from the beginning or is not feed adequately, this might not bode well for a tasty booch brew.

In my experience of brewing Jun kombucha with honey, it hasn't shown any signs of negatively or has affected the process or time and slowed it down in any way. As a matter of fact, my SCOBYs using honey are continuously propagating and are thick and hearty. And if you have brewed kombucha for any length of time, you'd find that this means that you have more SCOBYs than what you know what to do and give them away quite frequently.

Is plain sugar best for brewing kombucha?

Sugars: Glucose and Fructose

Sugar, in its simplest form, is essentially sucrose. This is then broken down into a compound made from fructose and glucose. If you use plain table sugar, understand that the sugars have already been broken down into fructose and glucose (through the refining process) and the kombucha SCOBY happily nourishes itself by consuming it.

When you use honey, you'll find the best way to look at it is how easy it is for the SCOBY to use the food source. The bees remove one step of the breakdown process within their own stomachs by secreting enzymes to further help break down the fructose and glucose. The bees are actually pre-digesting it and are taking away another step the SCOBY has to do in order to make its beneficial bacteria and yeasts. It's no wonder then why jun kombucha has a quicker ferment time of 7 days or so compared to the 10-21 day ferment time of its sugar-blended cousin.

The Legend Of Jun Kombucha

Doing a quick Google search of “Jun Kombucha”, you'll find that the information available on this fermented tea is as fragmented as there are stories about its origins. There aren't many confirming viewpoints as to the origins. There are stories that are to have passed down generations or have been found written in ancient texts.

Honey has long been used in ancient cultures, so when honey and tea are involved, it stands to reason that the possibility of accidentally or purposefully making fermented tea came into play. You might also read about meetings about this drink that was held in secret, or mysterious packages being delivered, or something that alludes to Tibetian monks. All are a part of this strange background that has lead to todays newest kombucha probiotic powerhouse, and all of those origins require more due diligence than I have time to commit, so I'll make my own hypothesis. Jun kombucha was here long before the sugar kombucha most of us know of today.


What Types of Tea To Use To Brew Jun

Jun kombucha has a few nutritional requirements that are not found when you brew traditional kombucha. It seems that Jun thrives on green tea as opposed to the other forms of tea found on grocery store shelves. These include white, black, oolong, or pu-erh teas. I've tried several batches using different SCOBYs and have found that although it can be done using these teas and honey, the flavors were not something that I found tasty or palatable. And in a couple of instances, actually got me to stop experimenting with certain teas altogether. Reciprically, I have never had that effect using green tea and honey Jun.

Green tea leaves are better for brewing Jun kombucha
Green tea leaves are better for brewing Jun kombucha

Now that doesn't mean that I am a complete Jun snob when it comes to producing a flavor profile other than plain green tea. I've found the Jun actually better absorbs the more floral and lighter teas and can be quite tasty. Chamomile, lavender, and jasmine pair well with the honey. But once you get into using the darker teas, you'll find that it takes on a bit of bitterness that I did not care for at all. I'd like to think that this is because the jun is better equipped to let it's flavor take second to the fruits, herbs, and other ingredients you chose to flavor it.

Now that doesn't mean that I am a complete Jun snob when it comes to producing a flavor profile other than plain green tea. I've found the Jun actually better absorbs the more floral and lighter teas and can be quite tasty. Chamomile, lavender, and jasmine pair well with the honey. But once you get into using the darker teas, you'll find that it takes on a bit of bitterness that I did not care for at all. I'd like to think that this is because the Jun is better equipped to let it's flavor take second to the fruits, herbs, and other ingredients you chose to flavor it.

Final Thoughts On Jun Kombucha

I drink both kinds of kombucha, but if I had to choose one to drink for the rest of my life, I'd definitely choose Jun kombucha with honey rather than the ones made with sugar. I believe it was partly I realized in the beginning that I made plenty of mistakes, and the Jun was definitely more forgiving in terms of whether the brew was salvageable. If you regularly use honey as a sweetener or believe in the healthy benefits of eating it, then I most certainly would recommend starting out with Jun. After several hundred batches, I can say my best success has been through using fruits and herbs. If you can get the SCOBY starter fed and happy, there will be plenty of more opportunities to expand my repertoire.

If you regularly use honey as a sweetener or believe in the healthy benefits of eating it, then I most certainly would also recommend starting out with Jun. After several hundred batches, I can say my best success has been through using fruits and herbs. If you can get the SCOBY starter fed and happy, there will be plenty of more opportunities to expand your repertoire using more and more flavor combinations.

So if you are a kombucha newbie and are looking for an easy brewing technique (or if you are an expert brewer and want to try something different), I believe I've given you enough reasons to go out and start brewing (or drinking) Jun. Additionally, if you want to catch what I think to be the next big thing in kombucha home-brewing, you can use all of the same equipment as you do with traditional kombucha (sans the sugar). The one piece of advice I can give you that involves Jun is to keep it separate from the

The one piece of advice I can give you that involves Jun is to always keep it separate from the sugar blended kombucha mother. I found going back and forth from traditional to Jun had slowed the growth and even halted growth in my SCOBY.

So? What are you waiting for? After you taste your first sip, the flavor will be unlike anything you've tried in kombucha. And truth be told, I don't think you'd want to either.

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