Friday, April 29, 2016

Sparkling ginger and lemon jun tea – recipe and giveaway

My first experience with probiotic drinks was tasting my grandmother’s continuous brew kombucha as a child. I have to admit that I found the strong taste rather challenging, and drank it only under duress at her insistence. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned to appreciate the taste of this ancient fermented brew.

Event as an adult, I sometimes find kombucha a bit challenging to drink. I prefer the taste of subtle, fresh flavoured foods and drinks over strong flavours, rarely adding spices to any of my foods. Instead, I will use fresh herbs, seeds and nuts to add flavour to my dishes.

I’ve been on many fermenting adventures over the last five years, gradually adding new ferments to my collection. Some I’ve let go (kefir, viili, yoghurt, kvass and a few more) and some I’ve kept (kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut yoghurt are my favourites). I wasn’t introduced to jun until about 12 months ago, when someone gifted me one of their cultures. Since that day, jun has become my favourite fermented drink and I now drink it every day.

It’s similar to kombucha in that it ferments with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that feeds on tea and sugar, but instead of feeding on black tea and processed sugar (like kombucha), it feeds on green tea and honey. The brewing process is similar to kombucha, but I have found that the culture that I have brews more quickly than any kombucha culture that I’ve tried. 

I’m not going to go into a discussion of the origin and spirituality of jun here; there is already plenty of that around and I am not an expert on either of these topics. I can confidently tell you that jun tea is the most delicious ferment that I’ve tasted, and this delicate drink certainly lives up to its reputation as the queen of ferments. It’s relative difficulty to procure and higher expense to prepare (compared with the more popular kombucha) may mean that it remains a ferment that is prepared with love at home, rather than a commercial commodity. This makes it even more appealing for me, as I feel like the best things in life are made for love rather than money.

I make my jun tea with ingredients that are grown and sourced locally. It sometimes take a bit of extra effort to find local ingredients (ironically), but the superior taste and knowledge that my food hasn’t travelled far to get to me makes it even more delicious.

To help spread the jun tea love, I am giving away two jun tea kits via my Instagram. The contents of these kits have kindly been donated by Love Tea (green tea), Honey Fingers (honey) and The Fermentary (jun culture and tea starter), three businesses local to me who share my passion for conscious eating. Head over to my Instagram to find out more and enter this competition. 

  • 2 litres spring (or filtered) water 
  • 2 teaspoons green tea (my favourite is the Australian Sencha by Love Tea, grown locally in Victoria) 
  • ¾ cup of honey (my favourite local honey in Melbourne is by Honey Fingers
  • 1 jun culture (SCOBY) (my favourite local supplier of cultures for fermentation is The Fermentary
  • ½ cup jun tea (from a previous batch, this comes with your SCOBY from The Fermentary)
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2cm ginger, finely sliced


Heat water to 70-80 degrees Celsius in a large pot. Add green tea and allow to infuse for 3-4 minutes. Strain tea and return liquid to pot.

Allow tea to cool slightly and add honey. Stir to dissolve.

Allow honey-sweetened tea to cool to room temperature, and pour into a glass jar (or ceramic fermentation pot).

Add jun culture and tea. Cover lid with muslin cloth and secure with elastic band, and place in a cool, dry position (I leave mine at the back of my pantry).

After about a week (approximately seven days, depending on your climate), taste your jun tea. It should taste gently sweet and sour, but not unpleasant. If you prefer your jun to taste more sour and less sweet, leave it to ferment a few more days (until it reaches your desired taste).

Remove the culture (and the second one, if it has grown on top of your tea) and place into a small jar with about half a cup of jun tea. Store the jar at room temperature or refrigerated; both work well for me. After a while you will probably grow several cultures, and when this happens, they will live happily together in a SCOBY hotel (yes, it’s a thing – look it up). Even better – give your extra cultures away to friends so that they can make their own jun.

The jun can be consumed at this stage; if you like it how it is, pour it into a bottle, seal and place in the refrigerator. If, like me, you prefer a bit more fizz and flavour, continue to follow this method.

Pour the jun into a glass bottle or jar that can be sealed completely.

Add lemon and ginger, seal bottle tightly and allow to ferment for another few days.

Open the bottle (slowly – it may be very fizzy) and remove lemon and ginger. Replace lid and store in refrigerator.

Serve cold (with ice, if you prefer). 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Shop update

Recently I've slowed down making things for my shop and started making more for myself and to give away or swap. So you won't see me updating my shop very often (but you will see me doing lots of making, and I regularly share what I'm working on via my Instagram).

I have, however, had some request for custom products and when I make them, I usually make a few more and list them in my online store. So there are a few new products in there at the moment.

The first is the Eucalyptus Necklace. This piece is hand knitted using a soft, natural cotton twine that has been naturally hand dyed using eucalyptus.

The second is a variation of the Grampians Necklace (eucalyptus dyed). This piece features 12 handmade ceramic beads that are hand formed using found clay and pit fired with wood, bark and leaves from native trees, food scraps, metals, natural oils and other found objects. The beads are assembled on an adjustable eucalyptus dyed, pure silk cord. The necklace comes in a handmade cotton drawstring bag that has been hand dyed using eucalyptus.

The third is a new batch of wild harvested Australian native smudge sticks. These generous bundles of wild grown native Australian plants, herbs and flowers have been naturally sun dried and bound with organic cotton thread. They come in three options: Soothing (ironbark eucalyptus, lavender, she oak and pink melaleuca), Uplifting (lemon scented eucalyptus, rosemary, olive leaf and tea tree) (small) and Inspiring (assorted wild harvested native Australian plants, herbs, and flowers including eucalyptus, tea tree, she oak, lavender, olive leaf, sage, rosemary, paperbark).

You can ready more about these pieces and their inspirations in my store.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Upcoming workshops: The Craft Sessions

I'm excited to announce that I will be teaching two workshops at The Craft Sessions in the Yarra Valley this September: Botanical printing: print your own line scarf using Australian native plants, and Botanical dyeing using Australian native plants.

The botanical printing workshop will run on the Friday and Saturday, and we will be using linen and some of my favourite Australian native plants to design and print our own scarves. You are also welcome to bring your own plant material (native or otherwise) to use on your scarf if you like. I will be teaching the techniques that I use to get the subtle, abstract patterns and natural colours that I love, and you'll be able to use the same techniques to achieve more distinct patterns as well. You'll go home with your own scarf, and the confidence and skills to continue printing textiles at home.

The botanical dyeing workshop is on the Sunday, and we will also be using Australian native flora. In this session you'll be dyeing your own mini yarn skeins (in earthy, complementary colours) to take home and use for your own weaving, knitting and crocheting projects. You will also go home with all the skills you need to keep dyeing at home with equipment that you probably already have (and plants from around your garden and neighbourhood).

You can enrol in both workshops, or just one, or you might even want to fill up your weekend with completely different workshops. There is a really great lineup this year, and I can honestly say that there are no workshops that I wouldn't want to do.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Planthunter: Aboriginal agriculture - Australia's hidden past

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Australian author Bruce Pascoe about the history and future of Aboriginal agriculture in Australian and his book Dark Emu, and wrote about our conversation for The Planthunter. I could have written a whole book based on our conversation. There's a whole world of sustainable, delicious and highly nutritious foods that we have avoided for hundreds of years. I feel like the time has come for us to embrace these foods and agricultural techniques that were refined over thousands of years, and are perfect for our unique land.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Eco Weaving Kit in indigo: Port Phillip Bay

After a few years of living freely and wandering this beautiful country I live in (and loving it), I started to feel the desire to build myself a nest. So I've settled into a beautiful little home just a short walk away from the beach that has a studio and workshop attached, and I have been foraging locally and getting my hands (and fibres) in the dye pot already.

It is my new seaside home that has inspired this batch of Eco Weaving Kits. All dyed using indigo and symplocos, the yarns included in this kit are inspired by the colours of Port Phillip Bay. This kit also includes an indigo shibori dyed bag, a handmade certified sustainable Australian wood loom and tapestry needle, my detailed beginner's guide to tapestry weaving (that includes instructions on freeform tapestry techniques), plus all the other bits and pieces that you need to make your own woven wall hanging (you can see the full list and a photo in the product listing). I'm donating 50% of profits from sales of these kits to the Port Phillip EcoCentre, which does an amazing job of protecting and improving beautiful Port Phillip Bay.

For those of you who already have your own loom, there are also yarn packs in this colourway.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Craft Sessions 2015 - a round up

This past September I taught two workshops at The Craft Sessions: Natural dyeing using Australian native plants and Weaving a wall hanging with naturally dyed yarn. It was a fantastic weekend again - the weather was perfect (especially important for natural dyeing outdoors) and the company was lovely. I made lots of new friends and caught up with old friends, we talked and laughed and ate (and again, there was a lot of knitting at the dinner table, a habit I was not familiar with before I attended The Craft Sessions in the previous year!).

Each time I go along to The Craft Sessions I feel like I take a huge leap in my personal growth. I have thought a lot about why this might be. Is it the teaching, is it being in the company of 100 or so interesting, intelligent, thoughtful women for 2.5 days, or is it the long days spent working with my hands for no reason but to work with my hands? Maybe it's all of those things. It's certainly a time of self reflection for me, both the event as well as the lead up and time afterwards. I definitely recall feeling a new kind of emotion the first time I went, and I felt it again the most recent time. I don't really have a word for this new emotion, but I think it's a new kind (or perhaps an old kind that I don't remember) of vulnerability, and even looking at these photos stirs up that emotion in a small way. Those rooms, those people, those conversations, that weaving, knitting, dyeing, sewing - they are more than just parts of a crafting retreat. They're openings to parts of me I've never been before.

Photos by Xan Holyoak from The Conscious Caterpillar and Felicia Semple from The Craft Sessions.


I've been gathering again. Not again as much as still. I never stop wanting to gather and capture the beauty that is all around me. I'm capturing it with my eyes and my camera, on my textiles and in my heart.