Exotic Ethiopian Typical Drinks: Tej

Honey is an ancestral product that has been used for millennia by many people. Either for its medicinal properties or for its taste it has been known as liquid gold. Honey has been consumed by humans since the dawn of times (well, almost). This fascinating fluid is created by bees from the nectar of flowers. A fun fact about it: Honey never rots.

One of the things that make honey so special is the fact that it doesn’t rot, not in a thousand years it will.. In fact, edible honey was found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, so we know that humans have been eating honey for that long.But honey has no fat or cholesterol, nor does it contain sodium. In fact, you could live only from eating honey, because it is considered the only type of food that has all the substances necessary to sustain a normal human life, but being completely honest, it could grow boring very quickly. What you probably did not know is that Ethiopia produces 25% of all African honey and 2% of world production; It is one of the top 10 producers in the world. It is also here where honey is used to make a “honey wine”.

History

No one knows for sure when the Ethiopians began to mix the honey with water and then ferment it with gesho (plant native to Africa). But the truth is that in Aksum, the first great civilization known in Ethiopia, archaeologists have discovered that already in the year 100 before our era honey and wine were used in this region for offerings and rituals.It is very likely then that the tej is one of the first ferments created by man along with beer and wine. In the sixteenth century, the networks of European Imperialism were spread all over the world, Africa was no exception. Ethiopia was invaded by white men who then discovered this typical drink of the country and began to demand it for its unique flavor, starting the spread of this marvelous drink that enhanced talks and was absolutely delicious.

The Making of The Tej

Being an artisanal drink, the way to elaborate it varies according to each region, even in each house in Ethiopia. But the truth is that its preparation is truly simple and can be done without much effort or technical knowledge.

Making Tej at Home

Place 1/4 part of honey for 3 parts of water, integrating perfectly well. Branches of gesho (which will help ferment the mixture) are placed in the container. Two weeks later the gesho is removed and the ferment is left in rest for another three weeks. The tej is ready to drink.

There are many places in Ethiopia where the tej is consumed. The tej bet or “tej houses” are served in a container called a berele. These were originally made of clay but now they are made of glass. They are vases vaulted in their base with a narrow mouth.