What is Jun? Those of you who are familiar with Kombucha may have heard of its rarer cousin Jun. Kombucha is a slightly different fermentation process from Jun, but otherwise the same. Some call Jun the ‘champagne of kombucha’ due to its slightly sweeter more exotic qualities.
Kombucha is made by the fermentation of raw sugar and brewed black tea by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast – also known as a SCOBY. It likes warm, humid climates and takes an average of 2-4 days to ferment – once the fermentation process has been established.
Jun, on the other hand, is a fermentation of raw honey and brewed green tea also by a SCOBY. However, since Jun was more widely brewed and cultivated in the colder Tibetan regions, it takes longer to ferment and take root. It likes slightly cooler temperatures and will take about twice as long, 4-8 days, to complete the fermentation process.
Reliable information on the origins of Jun are nearly impossible to come by. The oral tradition of Jun goes back several millennia and it is thought that Lau Tsu himself gave an heirloom culture to the monks of Bon in Tibet. Yet, however it has happened, more and more cultures are being produced and grown in the US.
Herbal Junction is a commercial operation that cultivates Jun Elixirs out of Eugene Oregon. Although, looking on their website you will rarely see anything that obviously pertains to the Jun they make. They typically refer to them as Elixirs, which is the tradition, and don’t talk about Jun and its properties openly.
We have, as a species, used fermentation to help our digestion and over all health for many thousands of years. While the obvious remnants are things like beer, wine, yogurt, sourdough bread, and liqueurs, there are further traditions like kefir, kombucha, and Jun which are also very good for our overall wellbeing.
There are studies and research that talk about the health benefits of fermented foods and some speculation that gluten intolerance is due to a lack of fermentation of grain before being baked into bread. Yet, my aim today is to provide more of a base of knowledge of Jun and its benefits.
Since I have had little success finding information directly about this wonderful tonic, I will provide some of my experiences.
I came across Jun for the first time when I was helping some friends at a large Thanksgiving party. There was a wonderful young man who had traveled from his homestead in the Oregon Hills between Corvallis and the coast. He brought out these bottles of amber to light yellow liquid in recycled bottles and began pouring sniffers of this sparkling liquid into them. He said, “its Jun, which is kind of like kombucha.” Although, I think the difference was captured well by my friend who called it “the champagne of kombucha.”
One sip and I could feel my nerves tingling. I felt more alert and alive that I had for weeks in that one sip. I could feel it radiating throughout my body and while some of it hit my gut like kombucha does, I felt that surge of energy radiate throughout my nervous system ending in an explosion in my brain. I understood in that one momentary experience that this Jun was truly a tonic and an elixir.
I was captivated in that moment and the next day I tried to discover all I could about what it was, how to make it, and its properties… and found nothing. No whisper of this amazing fermented beverage was anywhere. The internet had failed me, but I wanted more of this Jun, I wanted to make it myself if I couldn’t find it. So, I contacted my friend who introduced me to it and asked him how I could get more.
He gave me some instructions on how to cultivate the SCOBY and from that moment I began trying to recreate a thousand year old tradition. To me it is something of a sacrament, something to be shared and enjoyed with friends and intimate gatherings. Yet, I am also a romantic, I love the mystery and I will continue to make it for myself because it makes me feel wonderful.
Jun, some know it as the ‘champagne of kombucha.’ The fact remains that this is still a relatively unknown quantity with a deep mystery and reverence surrounding it. Those that brew it talk about it in hushed tones, wanting to share, but also wanting to keep the mystery. It’s not something that you can find readily available, but if you are curious and want to know what Jun is, go see what Herbal Junction can get you.
By Iam Bloom