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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jun Kombucha (Honey Kombucha)

When my husband and I got married years ago, I took a class on making naturally fermented pickles, and made zillions of them. The problem, though, was that nobody was ever home to eat all that stuff and I was running out of room in the fridge, so I gave it up. A few months ago, though, I started taking it up again by making kombucha.

Kombucha -- fermented tea -- is made with tea and sugar and undergoes an anaerobic fermention process. A scoby (which is an acronym of "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast") creates a biofilm over the tea, which prevents air from entering the liquid and causes natural carbonation. Yeast converts sugar in the tea to alcohol, and bacteria converts the alcohol into acids (essentially, it creates a vinegar). Sugar (opposed to other sweeteners) is used to make kombucha because it's much easier to control its pH that way.

On paper, I realize this beverage sounds completely unappetizing. (Biofilm? Yeast? Bacteria? Really?) In fact, my DH looked pretty skeptical when I offered him a glass, but now he's just as hooked as I am because it's really quite nice. Even my dog likes it. Bubbly and tangy, it reminds me of stone fruit and apple cider vinegar.

So anyway, I've been making this for a while using a continuous brew method, which I like because of the minimal cleanup, and we've been enjoying it every day. However, I recently read about something called jun kombucha. It was described as "the champagne of kombuchas." Also, instead of using sugar, jun is made with green tea and honey! Well, hot diggity! I had to try it!



It's important to note that one cannot use a regular kombucha scoby and starter tea to make jun as it requires different yeast/bacteria to process the honey. Jun scobys also work better at lower temperatures, which might be a good thing since a lot of windows make my kitchen a bit chilly in the winter.

Although I grew my own kombucha scoby, jun scobys are reported to be much more difficult and fickle, so I bought one instead. You can pay as much as $45 online for a jun scoby & starter tea, but I found a much less expensive one on Amazon. Even with shipping, it came out to only about $10. Etsy seems to have some jun scobys for sale as well.

Here are my scoby, starter tea, and instructions


Making jun kombucha is pretty easy -- just mix some green tea, honey & starter tea and add the scoby. The hardest part is waiting for the fermentation process to complete.

Green tea brewing

Green tea is cool. Honey goes in next.
Brewing a new pot for me in the background.

Add jun scoby & starter tea
Avoid transferring undesirable bacteria to jun scoby
by making sure everything it touches is clean.
Couldn't find a rubber band, so I used a long balloon to tie my kombucha!

After letting it ferment the prescribed number of days, I bottled it and let it carbonate a few more days until it was ready to drink.

A bubbly glass of jun, ready to drink


The color of it was positively lovely, and it had loads of bubbles. But the smell was... not entirely off-putting. I could smell the honey, but it wasn't the tangy, vinegary smell of regular kombucha. The actual tasting, though, was something of a Lou and Andy moment. Lou and Andy are two of my favorite characters from a sketch comedy show called Little Britain. Essentially, Andy constantly insists on having things that Lou knows he'll hate -- like an ice cream cone with just the cone and no ice cream. Despite Lou's valiant attempts to dissuade him, Andy always gets his way and always ends complaining, "I don't like it." It's a highly predictable gag, but it still cracks me up. Anyway, I'm having a very Andy moment. I don't like it.




4 comments:

  1. Good for you to try something new, especially using honey. Sorry sorry it didn't work out. Are you going to try it again to see if it comes out different the second time, or was this your one attempt? I must admit is does not sound that appetizing to me.

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    1. Regular kombucha is super delicious; it isn't finicky; and it's much less expensive to make since it takes sugar. Honey is too precious, I think, to waste on something this unappetizing, so this will probably be my one and only go. However, as I'm always telling my kids, you can't say that you don't like something until you try it. Well, I've tried it, and I don't like it. No need to travel any further down this road. ;-)

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  2. My beekeeper friend Lucia makes various flavors of kombucha (pomegranate, raspberry, etc) and shares it with my wife. She's always talking about her scoby - I didn't know that it actually stood for something. Count that day lost you learn nothing new! But, I'm with Andy - "I don't like it". I agree with Erik - good for you for trying something new!

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    1. LOL, I totally get Lucia discussing her scoby. It's a living thing, so it's kind of like a baby. I even talk to mine now and then -- just to encourage it a little. ;-)

      Sometimes I make flavored kombuchas, but our preference is for the plain kind. Different teas (e.g., black, white, green, pu-erh) create different flavor profiles (I like pu-erh, black or a mix of teas).

      Yesterday, after a walk with the kids, we stopped by our small town grocer for drinks, and I got an elderberry kombucha. It tasted completely different from any other kombucha I've had -- and it wasn't just the fruit -- but not in a good way. My hypothesis is that the yeasts in it must make a difference, too -- like they do for sourdough bread, but I don't know enough to be sure. Ah! There are so many wonders in this world -- definitely something new to learn every day. :-)

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Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!