Like many things, making Jun tea improves with practice. In an earlier post, our first attempts, with malodorous results, were described. We’re now on batch #6, and the output of the hard-working scobies has been gratifyingly good.
Maybe it’s the honey that made the difference – in our initial attempts last year, we used raw wildflower honey purchased from a large “natural” foods chain store, and the Jun smelled like cat pee. Yuck. Regardless of the type of green tea used, it still came out smelling bad. We wondered if Jun just wasn’t something we’d enjoy, and we shelved the scoby.
With this year’s batches, we used local raw clover honey purchased from a food co-op. Clover honey seems to have a fairly neutral flavor profile, so that may have been a factor in the good results. Even using different types of green tea and steeping it for different lengths of time, the results have been pleasant and we have a completely different perspective on Jun now…we enjoy it!
The finished product, after a 24-hour second ferment (during which it builds up a lot of carbonation, so use caution and refrigerate if it seems too enthusiastic during burpings), has a light effervescence and a nicely-balanced sweet/tangy flavor. With fresh ginger in the second ferment, it tasted like a soft but refreshing lemonade.
Jun seems less forgiving than Kombucha when it comes to overfermenting. We begin tasting it at day 4, and it’s usually ready to go to second ferment then; if you wait a day or two past the “sweet spot”, it could become unpalatably tangy. In short, you need to be vigilant about tasting it to determine when to harvest it – if you forget, you’ll likely end up with vinegar, which will really tick you off because honey isn’t cheap.
The delicate flavor of Jun should lend itself well to second ferments with fruit like figs, melons, peaches, or pears, which would be overpowered in a Kombucha tea second ferment (fresh ginger and pineapple are solid flavorings for KT). Summer’s bounty of fruit will be coming – we foresee many tasty batches of flavored Jun in the near future!