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KOMBUCHA and JUN....and possibly Kefir

Kombucha making has been popular for a long time. I call it my "old hippy" drink though I've personally been making it for just a few years. I find it really helps my dicky tum and it's a very pleasant form of hydration. The K I make is reasonably fizzy but as I dilute it down in water I add it to a bottle of aerated water using the Soda Stream. Looks like beer when I'm finished.

I tried milk Kefir but it upset my stomach - made a good cream cheese with it though. Phil makes some nice Water Kefir. James and Christine make some incredibly delicious flavoured Jun. 

I found this excellent article (below) this morning which explains the difference between black tea/sugar Kombucha and green tea/honey Jun.

There does seem to be quite a bit of flexibility in the processes for making any of these drinks when you start to look around. I've made Kombutcha with honey, white and raw sugar for instance. Quantities and volumes don't seem to be rigid and I would suggest you experiment and don't get too caught up in exactness.

There is lots of information about both Kombucha and Jun on the net. Try You Tube for some interesting videos.  Here are two of the better ones I found: VIDEO     VIDEO  Note that they both have variations in the instructions. Don't fret the small stuff.

This group KOMBUCHA KAMP also has lots of interesting information and hints.

Along the same lines - HOW TO MAKE VINEGAR. Using a Vinegar Mother.


If you want a Kombucha SCOBY or Mother I can provide you with one for free (given a week or two).

If you want to get your hands on a Jun SCOBY then you will have to look around a bit. I did find this Australian site that sells them through the post:  NOURISH ME ORGANICS.

James and Christine make some delicious drinks by flavouring their finished Jun tea HERE and HERE and HERE.


How to Make Jun Tea: Kombucha Champagne

(Follow the link for a good video.)

I was gifted my very first Jun tea culture in recent months from a friend who told me that he seemed to digest it even better than the fermented drink known as kombucha.

I was excited to learn of a ferment made with honey and green tea instead of black tea and sugar, which is what you use when making kombucha.

The reason?

In 2001, shortly after I first began brewing kombucha, a Chinese friend who came to dinner told me her mother had made a very similar drink when she was a child growing up in Guangdong Province. The difference? Her mother made the ferment with green tea and honey.

Ever since that night, I’ve been intrigued by this mysterious ferment. Now I know it was very likely Jun tea.

The History of Jun Tea

Jun is widely found today in western Tibet (the number one place on my bucket list to visit someday) although it’s actual history is shrouded in rumor and mystery.

Some Jun dealers claim that the earliest writings about Jun tea date back to 600 B.C. in Northeast China where the elixir was valued for its ability to open energy (chi) in the body and increase circulation. Unfortunately, no source for these “earliest writings” is actually given.

Jun cultures are precious and a bit hard to find to say the least. “Heirloom” Jun cultures are apparently so rare, in fact, that there have been robberies of Jun cultures reported by specialty fermentation dealers in recent years with distribution of daughter cultures of the stolen originals ending up in Hawaii in Colorado.

Jun Tea vs Kombucha

To say that I am in love with this lighter, faster brewing cousin of kombucha would be an understatement! Let’s examine some of the similarities and differences between these cousin ferments.

Jun tea uses slightly less tea and sweetener than kombucha

Where a full gallon of kombucha typically uses 4-5 teaspoons of black tea and 1-1.5 cups sugar, a gallon of Jun requires 4 teaspoons of green tea and 1 cup of honey, ideally locally sourced and raw.

This means that Jun tea would be free of any potential disaccharide residues from the white sugar and hence friendly to those on the GAPS Diet.

Steeping and brewing times are shorter for Jun tea

The (loose) green tea used to make Jun is steeped for only two minutes, whereas for kombucha, steeping time is normally 10 minutes.  Brew time is also shorter for Jun – 6 days versus 7 days minimum for kombucha.

This results in a lower caffeine final brew (if any is left at all) with lower potential fluoride content as well if lower quality and/or nonorganic tea is used for budget reasons.

Jun brews better at cooler temperatures

According to my friends at Kombucha Kamp, the ideal brewing temperature for Jun tea is between 68-77 F (20-25 C).   For kombucha, the temperature range for optimal brewing is 78-85 F (25.5-29 C).

As a result, depending on the temperature of your home, either Jun tea or kombucha may make more sense depending on the seasonal effect.

Budget Alert: Jun is more expensive to make

On the downside, brewing Jun tea is significantly more expensive than kombucha.  However, it is still far cheaper than buying bottled kombucha from the store.

While I brew kombucha for around 25 cents per quart, the cost of a quart of home brewed Jun tea is about $2.50, 10 times as much!

The difference in cost is primarily due to the higher price of quality honey as compared to the cane sugar used to make kombucha.

Jun tea is more alcoholic than kombucha

In addition to the increased cost, Jun tea is more alcoholic (around 2%), with kombucha clocking in at .5% for a typical batch.

The increased alcohol content makes Jun tea inappropriate for children. In addition, it is not advisable for consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Kombucha, on the other hand, is a ferment I enjoyed all throughout pregnancy and lactation and allowed my children to sip in small amounts starting around age 2.

Should You Try Jun Tea?

If you have never made kombucha or other home ferments before, I suggest you start with kombucha as it is far less expensive to make and failure of a batch or two won’t cost you much.

On the other hand, if you are experienced at home ferments, give Jun tea, the champagne of kombucha, a try!

Who knows?  You might end up a Jun-kie!

Where to Find a Jun Tea Culture and Starter

Unfortunately, not that many folks brew Jun tea yet, so it is hard to find someone in your community who can share a culture and some starter with you. This situation will likely improve in the coming years, but for now, I would suggest buying an authentic Jun culture and starter from Kombucha Kamp.  My friends Hannah and Alex will take good care of you and guarantee a full potency culture that is always fresh, never dehydrated or frozen. This is where my culture hails from.

Below is a 3 minute video which overviews the Jun Tea making process along with the written recipe.  Enjoy!

How to Make Jun Tea (Kombucha Champagne)

Makes 1 gallon


1 gallon filtered spring water

1 cup honey, preferably raw and locally sourced (I use this brand if local honey is not available)

4 tsp loose, organic green tea (I use this brand)

1 Jun culture (available here)

1 cup Jun tea starter (from a previous batch or purchase it here)


Heat the water to 165 F/74 C in a large pot.  Use a frying or candy thermometer to check the water is not too hot (I use this one).

Hint: Do not boil the water like when making kombucha.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Place 4 tsp loose tea in a stainless steel tea mesh (I use this one) and hook to the side of the pot.

Let steep for 2 minutes.

Remove tea mesh and pour hot tea into fermentation vessel (I use these).

Stir in honey and let mixture come to room temperature.

Stir in starter and stir to mix.  Place Jun tea culture on top.  Cover with a clean, white tea towel or floursack cloth (like these) and secure with a large rubber band.

Place in a quiet room (the top of a bureau in a guest bedroom or the top of a file cabinet in a home office are perfect. Ideally, not the top of the refrigerator or other appliances as the EMFs will weaken the Jun culture over time).

Leave for 3-6 days.

Harvest after 3 days if you wish to bottle the Jun tea for 3 more days for additional fizziness (see this video for the how-to) or leave for 6 full days if you don’t intend to bottle.

Place Jun cultures in a glass jar or bowl with sufficient brewed Jun tea to cover and reserve in the refrigerator for your next batch.

Bottled Jun tea should be always be  very cold and opened in the sink to prevent accidental fizzing over onto the counter and floors.

Finished Jun tea should be stored in the refrigerator in clear glass only. No plastic, no enamel, no colored glass.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources and More Information

Jun: A Fermented Elixir
How to Make Jun Tea
Fluoride in Kombucha: Should You Be Concerned?
Have You tried Kombucha Tea?
Switchel: Nature’s Healthy Gatorade
Can Candida Sufferers Drink Kombucha?
Kombucha: What it is and How to Make it (plus video how-to’s)
Does Kombucha Prevent Grey Hair?
Batch vs Continuous Brew Kombucha


I have been given dire warnings by other K makers not to use anything but Black Tea. Check out this useful blog about using white, green and black tea and which teas you do need to avoid.



I've given away a few K Mothers so made this instruction list for the process I use:


SCOBY or MOTHER: A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY a term used to refer to mixed cultures of bacteria and yeast present during production of kombucha. It is a living organism and needs care and feeding if you want it to stay healthy. K has probiotic properties and is good for you in all sorts of ways.

Check the internet – there’s a lot of different theories and lore’s about Kombucha.

Feed every 7 to 10 days. Mix can be left for an extra day or two but will eventually go vinegary and unpalatable if left too long. Do not throw out your Mother or all the mix as you will need some of the latter as starter.

You will need:

  • Glass jug – for steeping your tea and sugar
  • Black tea bags
  • Spoon for stirring in sugar
  • Sugar – white or raw
  • 1lt Unfluoridated and unchlorinated water (filtered rain water is good) - boiled
  • Funnel
  • Glass bottle - for storage (old wine bottle does well)
  • Glass jar – for brewing
  • Tight weave cloth and elastic band – to cover jar



  • In your jug – combine boiled water, 5 black tea bags and 1 cup of sugar
  • Stir the sugar until dissolved.
  • Allow to cool. I leave my tea bags in until cool – others remove after 10 mins. Up to you.


I do this every 7 to 10 days. Leave it too long and the mix becomes vinegary.

  • When ready to change mix gently remove your Kombucha Mother to a clean plate with clean hands (don’t use anti-bacterial hand wash). There is sediment at the bottom of the bottle – try not to stir it up.
  • Carefully pour your current mix through the funnel into the storage bottle. It should be quite fizzy.
  • Retain a glass full to use as starter for the next batch.
  • Dispose of the last bit of K in jar as it will be full of sediment.
  • Wash your jar.
  • Add the glass of starter to the jar.
  • Add the cooled tea and sugar brew.
  • Place your Mother back on top of the new brew.
  • Replace material and elastic on top. It is imperative that the K can breathe but you exclude insects such as Vinegar Flies which will lay eggs.
  • Keep your K in a spot where it won’t be moved or jiggered during its process, out of direct heat.

Can be drunk neat but it is a bit strong. I dilute mine with filtered rain water.

Your mother will become thick with new layers over time. Old layers can be composted or shared with friends to make their own Kombucha.

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Comment by Lissa on May 26, 2016 at 5:14

Great :) Let us know how you go with it Peggy.

Comment by Pollyanna on May 26, 2016 at 1:46
Tracked down a Jun baby in WA. Thanks for the heads up Lissa, I'm looking forward to trying this different brew.
Comment by Lissa on May 19, 2016 at 5:29

My understanding is that the sugar content is negligible at the end of the process Cheryl. Perhaps look into that a bit more and you might be surprised. 

I drink it personally as a low sugar substitute to other fizzy drinks.

Comment by CHERYL SLAPP on May 19, 2016 at 5:00

Great read, almost made me game enough to give it a go.  Only problem is the sugar, has anyone made jun or kombatcha with substitutes (diabetic reasons)

Comment by Rob Collings on May 15, 2016 at 21:30

I've been preforming your earlier suggestion Pollyanna, separating the grains after the kefir has burned up some, but not all of the sugar and starting a 2nd ferment in a pep bottle adding ginger juice and a bit of lemon juice. The grains go in to start a new mother. The crystals have been kept away from ginger to date. 

After your words in the last post, I will try very soon a ginger mother with the crystals, the results may be interesting. I'll definitely keep the original mother going without ginger to keep the whole original cast and crew, as there are potentially some real good guys in there ...


Species Lactobacillus
L. acidophilus
L. alactosus
L. brevis
L. bulgaricus
L. casei subsp. casei
L. casei subsp. pseudoplantarum
L. casei subsp. rhamnosus
L. casei subsp. tolerans
L. coryneformis subsp. torquens
L. fructosus
L. hilgardii
L. homohiochi
L. plantarum
L. psuedoplantarum
L. reuterietc
L. yamanashiensis

Species Streptococcus
S. agalactiae
Sr. bovis
S. cremeris
S. faecalis
S. lactis
S. mutans
S. pneumoniae
S. pyogenes
S. salivarius
S. sanguinis
S. suis
S. viridans

Species Pediococcus
P. damnosus

Species Leuconostoc
L. mesenteroides

Species Bacillus
B. subtilis
B. graveolus


Species Saccharomyces
S. bayanus
S. boullardii
S. cerevisiae
S. florentinus
S. pretoriensis
S. uvarum

Species Kloeckera
K. apiculata

Species Hansenula
H. yalbensis

Species Candida
C. gueretana
C. lamica
C. valida

Species Torulopsis
T. insconspicna

The above research is largely from the work of Dolores Sanchez-Penalver, Aidoo, Dominic 
Anfiteatro, and Ronald S. Brown.

NOTE : I'm trying to find an official research reference for the above.

Comment by Pollyanna on May 15, 2016 at 10:31
Rob, good to hear what you are trying. It will be interesting to see how the varied diet affects the grains, long term. My tibicos grains were always large and faceted, while the GBP had much smaller, more rounded ones. I wonder if your conversion of them will eventually alter their shape?.
Comment by Rob Collings on May 14, 2016 at 22:38

I believe the very truly original ginger beer plant only had Saccharomyces florentinus and Bacterium Hilgardii in symbiosis. When I saw that most kefir had these 2, although along with a cast of many other bacteria and fungi, I thought I'd give it a go.

Note, during a cram session a few weeks ago, I found many references to bacterium hilgardii and the possible production of a carcinogen which triggered a crack down on commercial alcohol producers since the 80s or 90s. I've got to go back to read about the conditions that hilgardii produce this, however I think it's fibre/cellulose related.

I've had 3 attempts so far. The first I combined way too much lime juice and not enough ginger. I got home from the GV after trying James's tasty Ginger Beer Kombutcha, tried mine with disappointment.

Around a week later Round Two was nice, I minced 2 large thumbs of ginger and added half a squeezed lemon to the 2nd ferment. (I did not add the larger bits of ginger mince, using about half total volume of ginger, lots of juice comes out during mincing).

This was very fizzy, definitely ginger beer in taste and feel, not sweet, with a pleasant cider vinegar like aftertaste.

At the beginning of the week, I bottled up round Three's 2nd ferment. only adding the juice from mincing with the very fine particulates that come with the mincing juice. 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to 1 Litre of Kefir water.

The 2nd ferment on this one could have gone longer (still got another 1.25L going though), but it still had some fizz. Slightly weaker on the ginger than the previous, but a very pleasant mild ginger beer Kefir, no cider vinegar aftertaste probably due to the shorter ferment.

Thanks Phil for the kefir grains, I have enough to split for Andy now.

Comment by Lissa on May 14, 2016 at 18:29

Really - Kefir grains to make Ginger Beer?

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 14, 2016 at 18:19

Great post.. 

Comment by Pollyanna on May 14, 2016 at 16:06
Phil, that should be interesting. From vague recollection, I think the antibacterial properties of ginger are supposed to cause problems for WK/tibicos grains, but haven't tried it personally. Maybe add the ginger after removing the grains? If you want the real GBP, there is a yahoo group, The group has some excellent files to read, even if you don't decide to hunt down the GBP grains. Mine were sent to me by a UK member for the price of his postage. If I'd been on BLF at the time (c 2006/7), I'd have offered them, instead of just discontinuing.

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