August 4, 2010

Jun: Nobody Wants us to Know About it.

No One Wants us to Know About it. So far, they are succeeding.

For centuries we have been nourished by fermented traditions. From the Russian kefir to the Korean kimchi. In the aftermath of kombuchagate more people are catching on to the benefits of fermentation. In the West there is an elite group of people who know of, and brew the finest form of kombucha, called Jun.

What is Kombucha/Jun?

First time kombucha drinkers are always thrown off by the snot like cultures in the bottom of the bottles “oh that’s the good stuff, you want to make sure to drink those” your seasoned kombucha drinker tells you.
If we knew the exact, secret process involved in Jun (rhymes with hoon) brewing we would be busy brewing instead of writing this. While hard proof of kombucha’s existence can be traced back to Russia in the late 19th century, there is little to no information available about Jun. Jun cultures reproduce more slowly than kombucha and Jun takes days to finish brewing. The cultures of Jun eat raw honey and green tea rather than unrefined sugar and black tea. Jun is also more alcoholic, hovering somewhere around the 2% range, versus kombucha’s .5% . Jun is like kombucha and mead synthesized into one.

The oxygen bar Tonic, in Boulder, Colorado, (which had to acquire a liquor license to serve it’s Jun) and serves Jun made by Herbal Junction Elixirs, offers this in its menu about Jun: “Jun is a drink originating in ancient Asia. The earliest writings on Jun date back to 600 B.C in Northeast China where it was valued for its ability to open chi (energy) in the body and to increase its circulation.” No source is cited for this.

Where can Jun be found?

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. Like all fermented things, when placed in contact with precious metals,the lively drink begins to lose its potency and enzymes.

My anonymous source (Christopher James Whitson) first tasted Jun in Tibet, at a camp at the base of Mt.Kailash. At this camp a 40 year old Tibetan woman attempted to seduce him with a fine grade of Jun.
The closest thing to a store in this part of the country is a dirt hut with a half naked 5 year old selling soda out of a cooler (and a marketing genius with the going rate for a soda being $2 US).

The rarest form of Jun is the “snow leopard” and one taste gives the equivalent effect of trampoline jumping for an hour. The Bonpo monks who produce this fine Jun are of Taoist, Buddhist and Shamanic origins and were rumored to have been given heirloom cultures by Lao Tzu.

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. The Khampa Nomad’s were trained by the CIA in the 70’s to try to kick China out. They took Jun so they would have superior fighting abilities against the Chinese. They are also guardians of heirloom cultures, travel on motorcycle with single long braids bouncing off their backs, flasks of Jun and swords on their hips.

Somehow Jun cultures have sprouted up all over the Americas, but few are trained in the alchemy of Jun brewing. Herbal Junction Elixirs, of Eugene Oregon ships Jun to a few select places, but the owner has kept his process for Jun brewing a tightly guarded secret.

For those fortunate enough to have drank Jun from Herbal Junction Elixirs and western Tibet, they report equality in taste, but the jing in Tibetan Jun to be superior. According to my source, “Jing is the thing that makes you levitate when you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Some Jun—kies speculate that the owner of Herbal Junction Elixirs has an heirloom culture from Lao Tzu and/or he learned to brew Jun in a monastery in Northern California. Jun critics agree that he probably studied with someone who had heirloom cultures. The true heirloom Jun cultures can not be commercially distributed ever. It would mean a perversion of something sacred.

The back of our Jun dealers car.

In recent years the Herbal Junction Elixirs’ warehouse was broken into twice and cultures were stolen. Some of these stolen cultures are now dispersed in Boulder and Hawaii.
My family’s Jun dealer uses one of the stolen cultures and over the years has perfected the Jun to taste like the Jun from Herbal Junction Elixirs yet also pleasantly original tasting. Our Jun dealer—who distributes mainly from his vehicle, plays gongs for the Jun while it brews, as he considers it a living, sentient being and will reprimand you for cursing around it. The first bottle is free.  The flavors range from “blood cleanser” and “acai berry” to “peace and love III”—our favorite. He brews his Jun with Rainforest Tea, which has sustainable practices.

What is the future of Jun?

GT’s Kombucha did an enormous amount of work to educate the public about kombucha, which no one has done thus far, for Jun.

When I spoke to the owner of the Tonic bar in Boulder, he stated he’d rather not answer questions about Jun and he wishes, “people could just enjoy Jun for what it is”. This implies buying the Jun at Tonic ($6 for 10 oz) and not asking further questions about it. The owner of Herbal Junction Elixirs would not return my phone calls or e-mails at the time of press.

The future is bright for Jun, with a high buzz unlike anything found in ordinary alcohol (probably because the drink is living) and alkalizing properties. How long until Jun is found on tap, in billiard halls and bars? Or at the least, the knowledge of Jun’s alchemy made more easily available instead of belonging to a small group of profiteering men? I think that’s what the Bonpo monks would want, since everyone deserves Jun.



“June Honey Brew Culture—Brand New Culture From China.” Organic-Cultures.com

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KommingMyBucha Nov 11, 2015 1:51pm

I received a bucha scoby from a coworker and immediately decided I did not like the idea of using sugar as a sweetener. The first batch I produced, I used a 50/50 ratio of raw sugar and honey. It turned out fine. The following batches I prepared with 100% honey. The transition from sugar to honey almost instantly killed my original scoby and left its dead corps sandwiched between two new bacteria colonies that I can only assume are completely different than a kombucha scoby (Jun??). Either way, with personal (non-scientific) experience, I have observed that the bacteria in kombucha are not able to metabolize honey and different/adapted bacteria are required. With the help of “The Art of Fermentation” I was able to accidentally creat what I believe is a Jun scoby. While it is very delicious, I’m curious about the health benefits compared to that of Kombucha. I’m wondering, because of the amount of sugar I consume, would it be better to have probiotics that are able to metabolize sugar, rather than honey. Either way, Jun is delightful and I have been successful in carbonating it and infusing it with local, organic, seasonal fruits. It’s been a very fun and interesting experience.

Samsung Kies May 20, 2015 12:25am

Amazing and good one dear. Keep sharing.

SpiralGurl Apr 11, 2015 12:20am

I was visiting Hawaii w/ my hubby and they sell this health tonic called Jin Elixirs at every health food store and got to meet the creator and operator and he was very knowledgeable about his culture and others. He claimed to have made his, NOT from a "stolen" JUN culture or from a "JUN" bottle. Rather through (Jin-ger)Ginger Culture. Similar to how ginger beer was made?!. According to his analysis, he said his culture has 25 different strains of lacto-bacillus and 1 strain of yeast. Which apparently group together forming colonies/strains and doesn't reproduce "Jin" babies or like "JUN" or "KOMBUCHA". He said his does not look like a "JUN" or "KOMBUCHA" scoby. Said his is a lactic ferment.
I am lucky to have a "JUN" culture and the tonic "Jin Elixirs" i had although similar to, but was different to the jun i make and have had, was delicious and therapeutic. I felt great. I know his is safe to drink since his research and scientific data back-up made since to me, more so then tibetan monks. Just fascinating.
He also sated that we are in a time of history that should focus on "how" these culture were created in the first place, not some folklore, Heirloom story. Which sounds cool, but much cooler that he created his and hopes more people will too.
Its fascinating to me that there is still not any proven evidence where "Jun" originated from, nor bacterial analysis, but there is tons on "kombucha" and its origin. Does it matter? maybe, to those who want to understand what they're putting into their bodies. At least for Jin Elixirs i know it's origin. and craving more of it.

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Emma Blue

Emma Blue wants to be a mensch when she grows up. To inspire you to share your story and to wear fewer ungapotchke outfits.
She finds eye contact, dancing and writing with stolen time agreeable. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her daughter, Aurélia.
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