Growing more and more popular in the world of fermented beverages is Jun tea. This probiotic beverage is packed with bacteria, yeasts, and organic acids; much like its sister beverage kombucha tea. Indeed, these two beverages share many attributes. Many call Jun simply a “Honey-Sweetened Green Tea Kombucha”. Others claim it is a unique strain of culture unto itself.
MYSTERIOUS ORIGINS OF JUN TEA
Unlike kombucha tea, whose roots seem to firmly point back to a source in Russia, Jun has a lot of conflicting information in regards to its origin. Some claim it can be traced back to areas of Asia while others claim it is simply a branch from the kombucha tree. It seems clear that we probably cannot know for sure.
One historical argument for Jun having its own culture rather than being simply kombucha cultured in a different medium is the historical analysis of the tea and sugar source. This argument states that the modern refined sugar used in making kombucha would not have been easily or widely available in the earliest centuries. Likewise, black tea is a more processed (fermented) version of green tea.
We may be able to conclude from this that the concept of a Jun or Kombucha-type fermented tea made from readily available pre-industrialized ingredients such as fresh green tea and honey from a local hive were precursors to the kombucha tea we now know.
The very specific origins, however, have yet to be clearly presented.
THE JUN SCOBY
Just as the origins of the Jun beverage are shrouded in mystery, the debate over the source of the Jun SCOBY is lively. In general, there are two camps.
The first line of thinking is that Jun has its own SCOBY which has never crossed paths with the kombucha culture. It originated in a different geographical region and was passed down, in a medium of raw honey and green tea, from generation to generation. This camp states that Jun cannot be made from a kombucha SCOBY and therefore one must seek out a pure Jun SCOBY, which can be hard to find.
Another line of thinking is that Jun is a branch from the kombucha family tree. Essentially, a kombucha SCOBY can be “trained” over time to culture any sweetened tea medium. Jun, therefore, is simply a kombucha (or kombucha-like) SCOBY that has evolved to culture in a medium of raw honey and green tea. This camp allows for the purchasing of a “trained” Jun SCOBY or the purchasing and training of a kombucha SCOBY through the use of raw honey and green tea.
One other point of contention between the two camps is the exposure to air or aerobic nature of the ferment. Like kombucha, Jun is generally cultured with an exposure to air through a permeable surface. Jun purists point out that the interaction between what might be considered a “pure” culture and the surrounding air changes the microbial makeup of the Jun, most specifically the yeasts involved.