Becoming Cultured….and fermented (probiotics!) Part 2
As promised, this is a more in depth look at Kombucha and Jun. If you haven’t already, consider reading part 1 here
I meant to get this out earlier, but things have been super busy around here! The good news is I’m nearly done with my Herbal Medicine studies – if there are no more delays (I know, famous last words, right?… but that’s exactly why I didn’t tell anyone about it sooner!), I could be done by or before the end of this year. WOOHOO!
Kombucha and Jun are both
aka SCOBY. They both are basically cultured and fermented sweet tea(s).
Kombucha is usually fermented black tea (although many use a blend, a certain percentage of the tea should be black – I believe it is 25-40%) with sugar (I use a good ‘real’ brown sugar as in not painted and sucanat). I’ve had great success using plain old organic black tea only. If one allows the brew to go long enough, about 7 to 10 days (depending on weather – in a very warm environment, the brewing time could be considerably less), all of the sugar is consumed by the culture.
If you are considering Kombucha, start off with a small amount and see how your body reacts – you’re looking for detox symptoms (headache, diarhea and the like), slow down if you get symptoms and drink a lot of water. There are those who estimate the probiotic count for kombucha to be in the Billion per ounce range, others who say the probiotic count is non-existent – it’s probably more like 1 to 3 Billion per 8 ounces of home brew. Kombucha has been around for about 2000 years or maybe more. In ancient times, it was called ‘Manchurian Tea’. Kombucha is also rich in antioxidants, healthful organic acids, vitamins (B and C), amino acids, enzymes and electrolytes.
Some of the Organic Acids formed by Kombucha include:
Lactic Acid – essential for digestion and assists blood circulation. Aids in balancing acids and alkalines in the body.
Glucuronic acid – detoxifier. When toxins enter the liver, this acid binds with them and carries the toxins out through the kidneys. A by-product of the glucuronic acid is glucosamine, which is associated with collagen, the cartilage in joints – it is this by-product that makes kombucha so effective in people with arthritis.
acetic acid – inhibits harmful bacteria
usnic acid – natural antibiotic
oxalic acid – natural preservative; encourages production of energy on a cellular level
malic acid – detoxifyer – especially for the liver.
Gluconic acid – breaks down caprylic acid and is of great benefit to candida and other yeast infection sufferers.
Butyric acid – also fights candida
Yes, the fermentation process does produce a slight amount of alcohol.
Jun is usually fermented green tea and honey. Jun has an air of ‘mystery’ around it that, of course, I had to dig into further. Who doesn’t love a good mystery? There is not a large body of information regarding Jun, so I read what I was able to find and sought a culture. When I finally obtained my culture, it was tiny and white, with less than a cup of starter around it. My concern was “I’m going to kill it!” but that was silly. The culture is hearty. It multiplies. I’m not to the point where I’m ready to call my cultures ‘tribbles’, but I can see how quickly that could happen.
This is jun. As you can see, the scoby has reproduced – they are always huge for me. Much like asparagus just grows for me, so does Jun… LOL
I haven’t been able to find any information on how many healthful substances there are in Jun. I figure it’s got a similar, although probably not identical, health profile when compared to Kombucha. All I can tell you is that my children love Jun more than Kombucha. It’s got a gentler flavor.
My health has been returning to me by leaps and bounds. I no longer have antibodies against my thyroid. I’m off thyroid meds at the moment. My adrenals are no longer so delicate that I can’t DO things. Heck, my eyesight even seems to be changing – I’m constantly taking my glasses off and realized (finally!) that I see better without them (?)! But much of this will be covered in another post.
After the initial ferment of about a week, it’s time to decant the kombucha or jun. Wash the hands, rinse well, then rinse again. Some rinse their hands in vinegar before handling the scoby. Take the scoby out of the brewing vessel – I use a deep glass pie plate. Ladle kombucha or jun from the vessel over the scoby – about 2 cups. Pour the rest of the kombucha or jun into bottles, then rinse brewing vessels with hot water then vinegar. Now, the vessels are ready to brew again. Remember to let your tea cool off before putting the SCOBY into it.
DON’T USE METAL! USE GLASS OR CERAMIC TO BREW, PLASTIC TO STIR and if you have to cut the umbilical on a SCOBY & baby Scoby, USE PLASTIC.
Because of the bottles I chose from Midwest Brewing, I have to use a funnel in my bottles. Once the kombucha is in the bottles, they need to sit for a while – so many people have so many opinions about this – let them be for a week or three – that is UP TO YOU. The question should be DOES IT TASTE GOOD TO YOU? Yes, you can drink it right away, but it builds more of those healthy acids up while it sits during this ‘second ferment’. It can also build a heck of a FIZZ. If you do let your kombucha sit for a length of time, do not forget to burp your bottles. Just open them up, let the pressure off and tighten them back up again. Not doing this leads to bursting bottles and that isn’t any fun to clean up!
OK, I’m going to share my favorite recipe – it’s really not as exciting as some. I see some folks adding maca to their brews during the second ferment and that’s fine, but I try to keep the kombucha and jun simple, yet tasty. In fact, we don’t even put flavorings into Jun here, we just bottle and enjoy. It tastes good added to cooled tea, other drinks such as wine (not kidding – it’s been done). In other words, it’s easy to sneak into foods and drinks this way and that’s just what I do.
We do not keep fruit juices around. We do have fruits, but not commercially canned or bottled juices. So my recipes are somewhat different from others you may find. Celestial Seasonings (there are other brands, CS just seems to be the most ubiquitous brand in my area) makes many fruit teas – they aren’t just ‘flavored’, they actually contain fruit. My family likes the Raspberry, Blueberry, Cherry and Peach teas the best. My all time favorite is Cherry Lemon Ginger Kombucha. Raspberry Lemon Ginger comes in a close second. I haven’t tried Peach tea in Kombucha yet, but plan to.
Raspberry Lemon Ginger Kombucha
To a 1 quart bottle or jar, I add
– Fresh Ginger Root slices (leave the skin on) – I love ginger and usually slice more than 1/4 inch of root into my bottles. Ginger is an adaptogenic herb that is good for the body in so many different ways – it’s calming for the stomach and gives me a burst of energy (adrenals)
– Juice of 1/2 lemon (for flavor, the medicinal qualities and lemon makes FIZZ!)
– 1 cup of cooled Raspberry tea
– If you like your kombucha or jun to have a bit of sweet to it, add a sweetener that WILL NOT FERMENT here – sugar, honey, etc ferments and will make more alcohol and fizz. Stevia, xylitol, erythritol, etc, will not ferment.
– Fill rest of bottle with Kombucha, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch head space and seal. Because it’s already warm here, I have to start burping these bottles after about 3 days.
* Cherry Lemon Ginger Kombucha is the same – sub in 1 cup of Cherry Tea for the Raspberry.
If you need to take a break from brewing, do so – leave your scoby in your vessel with enough brew to cover it. Check on it once in a while to make sure it isn’t dry. When you’re ready to go again, your SCOBY will be too.
Left alone too long, kombucha and jun will both eventually turn to vinegar. Because I use a good amount of Apple Cider Vinegar in my household – not just for cooking, I have made apple cider vinegar. However, I’ve also taken about 1 tablespoon of ACV with the mother and innoculated a little over a cup of jun that was nearly vinegar. Let it sit with the lid very loose til it didn’t try to fizz up any more. Then let it sit for a good while longer (I lost my notes, so I can’t say exactly how much time passed! sorry!) and the resulting vinegar was beautiful and tasty. Will certainly do that again – maybe even with some kombucha.
Nifty Tips from Kombucha Kamp – Hannah is awesome!
1. If you find that fruit flies are trying to take over your brewing area, put a drop of dish soap into a small bowl, pour an ounce or two of kombucha or jun (it seems to me that the flies like kombucha better) over the soap and leave that near your brewing area – the flies are drawn to it, but the soap won’t let them back out.
2. SCOBY hotel – If you find that you’re getting a LOT of SCOBYs and don’t have a lot of people waiting in line to take them off your hands, make a hotel. Get a good sized jar (1/2 – 1 gallon), put your spare SCOBYs in the jar, then pour kombucha (or jun) over them til they’re covered. Hannah suggests putting the lid on the jar, and that the SCOBYs will be fine for up to a year without brewing. She recommends putting the SCOBYs in hotel rather than bagging and refrigerating. Some say that some of the bacteria go dormant and may not reawaken. That being said, I’ve frozen cultures (NOT Kombucha or Jun…yet) and they’ve worked just fine after the thaw. So I don’t know which way is BEST.
Now, I don’t know EVERYTHING there is to know about either kombucha or jun. My purpose for posting this is to help other people realize that it isn’t intimidating or impossible to keep up with – that anyone can brew their own booch and jun and even take breaks from it when they need to. It is my sincerest wish to aid others in achieving optimal health and helping others learn how to help themselves.