This bio will be short and sweet like me. I am not formally trained as a writer. My ego will never be so great to say my talents are in writing. However, I fully and proudly admit that I am an...
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If you frequent the Asheville farmers markets you might have already come across the Shanti Elixirs tent. They are new to the market this year, but they are already making a mark on the hearts of the market shoppers. Within the short amount of time they’ve been at the market, they’ve already built up a regular following of jun drinkers. I had never heard of jun before I came across the Shanti tent. So when I of course...stopped for samples, that first sip converted me into a jun fan and I may have blurted out a request for an interview without blinking.
What is jun? Jun is a fermented tea beverage rich with probiotics that can be considered a branchoff of kombucha. It actually has a nickname: the “champagne of kombucha.” So it’s the same in some ways, but different enough to be its own thing. Kombucha and jun are different cultures. and they use slightly different ingredients for fermentation. These differences seem small but the effect on flavor is substantial.
Regular kombucha is typically a black tea and sugar-based fermentation. The jun culture works best fermented with honey and green tea. I enjoy kombucha, but getting there was a process. It is definitely an acquired taste. After years of drinking it, I still only drink it in small doses, and I rarely finish a 12-oz bottle on my own. I feel with kombucha the flavors are big bold herbs or spices, with a big tangy beginning and a just as big tangy finish. Jun is a smoother, softer taste and the flavors can be subtle, bright, and simple. The jun flavors don’t have to be big and bold in an attempt to cover a very tart beverage, and there is no time needed to acquire a taste for jun. As the children that go to Shanti’s tent for samples can attest, it is easy to drink. If you’ve tried kombucha and don’t like it, give Shanti-Jun a try, because it’s its own thing. If you love kombucha, definitely give it a shot—because jun is like kombucha’s awesome cousin!
The name Shanti Elixirs is a combination of the first name of the sweet owner and the idea that a fermented drink jun is a health tonic for the belly. Shanti means "peace," and you can see the name suits her as you get to know her. Shanti went to nursing school and her primary work is as a lactation consultant. She believes that health begins in infancy and that the base of being healthy is taking care of your body, which, importantly, includes your digestive system. Shanti Elixirs is a continuation of her wish to help people be healthy by offering an easy-to-drink probiotic beverage.
Shanti’s journey into the jun brewing world began with her love for bees and beekeeping. Being a very intuitive person, she felt drawn to attend a sacred beekeeping workshop: Bee-Centric Beekeeping with Laura Bee from College of the Melissae. Her supportive and loving husband Kalyan told her to go for it, but being practical and having a family of five, he advised saving up money. Shanti saved up, followed her heart and made her way to the workshop, where she was introduced to jun and given her first S.C.O.B.Y. (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) by Rebecca Robertson, workshop host and local Asheville beekeeper. Once home, she began making batches for her family, including her three boys, which led to sharing it with friends and coworkers. Like the S.C.O.B.Y, her jun following grew and grew, with people who had received a bottle as gifts requesting more and more of Shanti’s jun.
With the growing requests of her jun and her growing S.C.O.B.Y., Shanti realized she needed to share it with the community. She says this all happened very organically, but talking to her you can tell it was a labor of love and a lot of hard work went into it. There were many late nights of researching, connecting with farmers, finding a larger apiary than her own, filling out market applications, and getting past the red tape to get a commercial kitchen.
She took the time to develop flavors that would pass taste tests with her family. The regular flavors she carries are lemony lavender love (FAVE! like grown-up lemonade), powerful pomberry, groovy grape, genuine ginger, invigorating immune, and the tune up tonic. She also carries seasonal flavors. I’ve tried most of them and they have been fun and delicious: blueberry basil bliss, strawberry mint aloe, strawberry lemon, and mango magic (mango, chocolate habanero, ginger, YUM!!) are a few. Really there are no wrong choices at this stand, and if you’re not sure, they are generous with samples!
Shanti Elixirs is a Cinderella story amongst the delicious market vendors. She started offering tastes October 2016 at LEAF Festival (as part of her essential oil consultations) and in under a year her jun has blossomed into a popular farmers market offering and is about to be sold on tap at local restaurants.
If you don't make it to the market in the next month, you will be able to find Shanti-Jun on tap at Avenue M and Fifth Season, with more businesses in the works.
You can find Shanti-Jun online at:
One of Shanti’s favorite things about bringing Shanti-Jun to the Asheville community is having joined the market community. So I offered her a chance to give a shout out to the many people that helped Shanti get to where she is. To list a few:
Brian Hickey: engineering and fermentation consultant
Teri and Greg Seigel: Avenue M
Janet and Bill Dorf: Angel Supporters
Eddie, Michelle, Esmee Dorf: Nutcracker Ballet Gifts
Jeannie Adair: Director of Marketing
Jodi Rhoden: Business coach of Mountain Bizworks
Pana Columbus: transformational coach
Greg Rogers: Haw Creek Honey
Shanti’s own: Blissful Bee Apiary
Jaya Gamble: Woodland Hills Farm
Bobby Degorter: Jahworks Farm
Lewis Blake: Bear Necessities Farm
Chrisan: Blue Meadow Farms
Julie and Steve: Myseanica Family Farm
Bee Tree Farm and Vineyard
For photos of foodstuffs, follow me on Instagram @emporiumofyum