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Jun (IPA: [ʤʊn]) or Xun is an effervescent fermented health tonic roughly similar to kombucha but feeding on a dominant base of green tea and raw honey rather than a dominant base black tea and concentrated Cane Sugar. So little credible information exists about Jun that even its most basic characteristics are in dispute: some claim its true definition to be an exclusively anaerobic lactobacillus ferment, and others that it is similar to kombucha in including yeasts. The fermentation process requires a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) similar to that used to make kombucha. It is suggested that, in the absence of a definitive jun SCOBY, a kombucha SCOBY can be gradually adapted, but there is some debate about this.
Among the characteristics of Jun known to include yeast: Like kombucha, it can achieve an alcohol content of 2–7%. Jun has faster brewing times of ~3–7 days rather than kombucha's ~5–8, and more effervescence. Its flavor reflects its ingredients which in the case of raw honey produces a less pungent or sour taste than kombucha. A large number of its consumers cite that Jun is lighter and more palatable than kombucha. Though like many cultures Jun can subsist on many diets such as yerba mate, peony, and guayusa, how authentic the result relative to the name becomes is unclear. Jun's cultures are purportedly probiotic in similar fashion to those comprising kombucha and water kefir. Jun, like kombucha, is a probiotic because of the lactobacillus and other beneficial bacteria present in the SCOBY used to brew these drinks, and thus imparted into the liquid. One Jun producer in Washington State (Huney Jun) has tested its products probiotic bacteria content on several occasions, finding two dominant strains in their Jun: Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei. Total bacteria count reported was 1.3 Trillion CFU/12oz, far more than ever reported from a test sample of kombucha. The most plausible reason for the greater probiotic content in Jun is the prebiotic environment that raw honey creates during the fermentation process.
Jun's origin is unclear. It is thought to have originated in northern China and Tibet; many brewers and distributors claim stock originating from imported heirloom Chinese or Tibetan jun cultures and/or openly confess stock to have originated from contraband. According to food writer Sandor Katz, "The lack of credible information on the history of Jun leads me to the conclusion that it is a relatively recent divergence from the kombucha family tree. Some websites claim that it comes from Tibet, where it has been made for 1000 years; unfortunately, books on Tibetan food, and even a specialized book on Himalayan ferments, contain no mention of it... The culture is somewhat obscure and hard to find, but its epicenter seems to be the Pacific Northwest, where the Eugene, Oregon-based Herbal Junction Elixirs produces it commercially as well as Leavenworth, Washington producer Huney Jun." Despite Katz's profession of a paucity of evidence for Jun's history, the oldest Tibetan tradition, the Bon, still today cultivate it.
Katz's conjecture is also contradicted by Chris Straight's observation that a refined ingredient like cane sugar, unavailable in the distant past of Jun's ostensible origin, couldn't plausibly be the original ferment's recipe, whereas raw honey is—as it has ever been—ready to use straight from the hive. Straight does note that today's commercially produced raw honey, if unstrained, has the potential to introduce contaminants such as bee parts. Perhaps due to honey's strong antiseptic properties, Straight notes that in his years of experience he has never yet yielded a compromised batch.
The obscurity of Jun is partly due to the ethos surrounding its origin as a beverage to aid enlightenment: commercial transactions of Jun culture are viewed by its creators to violate its intent, and many brewing practices common amongst other fermentations may be viewed by many of Jun's most venerable brewers as confounding conditions considered prerequisite to obtaining Jun's greatest potential. Jun's origins' obscurity may partly be a function of its embracing local ecologies, similarly to Japanese koji culture (Aspergillus oryzae) which starts simply from rice thrown onto healthy soil, making Jun more accurately considered a genre of ferments rather than being capable of codifying a definition as any specific sampling from amongst myriad suitable sources.
- "Preserving Sacred Cultures – Eugene Weekly".
- Emma Blue (2010-08-04). "Jun: Nobody Wants us to Know About it". The Elephant Journal.
- "Making Jun Tea: How to Brew Jun with a Kombucha SCOBY". Cultures for Health website. 2014-12-22. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
- Chris Straight (2014-08-25). "Jun, A Honey-Based Kombucha". Archived from the original on 2014-09-27.
- "Huney Jun - The Honey Kombucha - Leavenworth, WA". huney-jun.
- Katz, Sandor Ellix. 2012. The Art of Fermentation: an in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world. Chelsea Green Publishers.