Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jun Tea For Beginners! A Guide

Due to sudden high demand, and the fact I can't recall posting about this yet, I shall do a step-by-step post on how to brew your own Jun Tea, aka Green Tea/Honey Kombucha - the principle is the same, get a SCOBY (mother culture), make some tea, give it something sweet, wait, maybe ferment a second time, and enjoy.  Here's the very explicit instructions showing just how easy it is!

So, let's start!

Step 1 - Get your materials! (like any good chemist, of course)

Materials pictured: 
1) Large pot for boiling water / tea
2) Couple bottles for bottling later (cork top so I don't have to worry about pressure building up)
3) Raw local honey ideally, I've made it with generic store brand stuff before though.  Loose leaf green tea (preferred) - you'll need approximately 1 cup of loose leaf tea, or 12-16 tea bags
4) large glass jar (1 gallon) for brewing tea ($10 on Amazon)
5) Something to fasten a paper towel or tea towel around the lid (the blue long twist tie)
6) Your SCOBY in its 1-2 cups of starting liquid
7) Source of unchlorinated water - whether it's filtered water, purchased spring water, or you boil it to get the chlorine out, just has to be free of added chemicals that would kill the SCOBY
8) Funnel with filter (mine's an OXO I got off Amazon)

Ready?  Okay, let's begin.

Step 2 - Put (in my case, filtered) water in glass jug, fill just over 3/4 of the way up, since you need to leave room for SCOBY and starter liquid

Step 3 - Put water in pot

Step 4 - Turn the heat on (I did say I was making this as easy as possible, right?)

Step 5 - Put the tea in when bubbles start to appear at the bottom, it is generally hot enough - you can measure the temp with a thermometer if you want, about 195F is standard unless you're using a different kind of tea.  

Step 6 - It looks like a lot, I know - about 1 cup.  I probably put in a little extra.  You can turn off the stove and move the pot away from the heat now while it sits.

Step 7 - Wait about 15 minutes, just so it's nice and tannic - the SCOBY likes that.

Step 8 - When it's cool enough that it won't scald you, scoop out the tea leaves as much as you can then let the rest get filtered out by the funnel when you pour the tea into the brewing jar.

Step 9 - Add honey - I add it at this point so that if I spill between the above steps, I won't get the counters all sticky.  Plus you can just cap and swirl the jar to dissolve the honey.  Easy peasy.

Step 10 - Once the tea is cooled enough, ideally to room temp but it's okay as long as you can hold the jar for 5 minutes without feeling like it's burning.  You just don't want to burn your poor little SCOBY.  Add the SCOBY and the liquid it is sitting in.

Step 11 - Put some kind of cover on that allows air flow and loosely fasten it to the top - I just use a long twist tie that came with my salad bunch - it's the perfect circumference.  

Now, you set it aside, maybe in a spare cupboard or corner, avoid direct sunlight, but absolute darkness is not by any means necessary.  Wait 3 days before you start checking it - when it starts to get a little vinegar-y cider-y acidic flavor to it, and doesn't just taste like room temp tea with honey added to it, then things are starting to happen!  At this point, keep tasting it until it is to your liking (i.e. tart enough - the longer you ferment it, the more tart and less sweet it will be - if you let it go long enough, it'll turn into vinegar essentially).

Now, during the summer when it's warmer, and when the culture is super active, this may only take 3-4 days for the first part.  Now that it's colder, it takes longer - this batch actually took 7-8 days.  Here is how it looks after those days.  A lighter golden yellow color.  First step is taking out your SCOBYs and putting them in holding containers.

Make sure to add at LEAST 1 cup of your Jun tea to the jar(s) containing your SCOBY so it doesn't dry out - it may continue fermenting and grow a new light layer on top while in its holding container.  Leave the lid a little loose so it's not completely cut off from air - it'll produce carbon dioxide anyway and push the lid off if you do try to put it on tight.

Now get your containers for the second part - I use old whiskey bottles because they come with cork tops so I don't need to worry about gas building up, if it's getting higher pressure, it'll just pop off.  The swivel-top glass bottles also work - honestly any container will work, just have to make it sealed and check it from time to time.

*Not product placement, FWIW, but they were good.

Filter helps keep some extra chunks out but a lot of stuff gets through - if you really don't want any yeast sediment pieces going through, use something like a cheesecloth or coffee filter but then filtering takes a lot longer.  I'm kinda impatient.

At the end, this is what you should have - your SCOBYs in their little houses, ready to wait for your next batch, and some bottles filled with the Jun tea.  If you don't like a fizz, you can just put these bottles directly in the fridge.  It's nice to let them do some anaerobic (without oxygen) fermentation to give it a little spumante / frizzante feeling on the tongue.  I usually wait until the bottles' tops pop off once, or when I pour a little to check I see some bubbles form.  Generally 1-2 days, but in colder weather probably 2-4 days.

If anyone has questions feel free to post - 

As a precaution, I would NOT recommend giving this as a gift to anyone expecting or expecting to be expecting a baby - simply because with home-brewed drinks, there is always the chance for contamination.  Ideally this wouldn't happen because there are so many of the 'good' SCOBY parts that bad ones just wouldn't get much of a foothold, but it could potentially happen.  If Listeria, or other bacteria got into the batch, that could be potentially serious and cause miscarriage or pregnancy complications.  Since I cannot guarantee that Clostridium wouldn't be present, I'd probably also advise against giving it to a child under 1 year of age.  

This drink is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease . 

But it is yummy and feels good in my tummy.

The End!