Jun Tea's Ancient Past
Updated: Jan 9, 2021
If you are like us, you might be wondering about the origins of Jun Tea.
Mysterious, displaced, reborn. Jun Tea (Xun), or Jun-Kombucha is a raw honey and green tea based wild ferment, that when introduced to a Jun culture or SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), ferments to produce bubbly probiotic tonic. Sound a lot like Kombucha? Well it is similar in it's process and benefits, but with one fundamental difference. Jun scoby's can metabolize raw honey and green tea with ease, while Kombucha scoby's prefer cane sugar and the more caffeinated/tanic content of black tea. With honey use dating back further than processed cane sugar, it is supposed that Jun has a rich and somewhat spiritual history dating back thousands of years.
Modern day Tibet is the most likely origin of Jun, with suggested use by Bon Monks that live there to this day. Bon monks are still practicing their religion in Tibet, with more than 300 bonpo monasteries spread throughout the country. Tibetans regularly consume many fermented foods, that are typically alcoholic in nature and fall into a group of foods known as "Chang" or beer. In Emma Blue's article for the Elephant Journal, "Jun, Nobody Wants Us to Know About It", she explains:
“Jun is widely found in parts of western Tibet. Each province of China has a version of Chang beer, in some parts of Tibet the beer has Jun in it."
Given the remote location of Tibet, and its culture devoid of modern influence, it is easy to assume that if Jun is being brewed today by monks, it is likely and ancient elixir. Certain heirloom cultures are storied to have been passed down from monk to monk and remain in use today. Jun cultures have the ability to continuously grow and survive in perpetuity, so these heirloom cultures could be thousands of years old. Many varieties of Jun are said to be found in tibet, Emma goes on to say:
"The most easily found and tastiest Jun in Tibet comes from the Khampa nomads —former monks turned physical and spiritual warriors who learned their knowledge of how to make Jun from the Bonpo."
Despite the compelling accounts and assumptions of Jun and its ancient use by bon monks, there is very little written history to point at, be it Tibetan or otherwise. We like to imagine that such a tasty and simple ferment dates back to a time unknown. Whether it be a thousand years old, or something new that evolved as a sister brew to Kombucha, the scientifically proven probiotic counts and delicious flavor make Jun a modern day elixir of life.
Huney Jun's Origins
Similar to the origins of Jun, Huney Jun's scoby is of mysterious origins. Passed down to us by a mother of many magical scobys in southern California. Now known in our Junery as Grandma Aina, after the Hawaiian word meaning land, or that which feeds. Our Scoby is old, maybe hundreds of years, maybe thousands, and continues to grow and thrive. It now weighs several hundred pounds and counting, and continues to feed us all with grace.
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