Monday, April 5, 2010

Tej - Ethiopian Honey Wine

From Ethiopian Tej is pronounced as in T'édge, and is the generic name for Ethiopian traditional Honey Wine or Mead.

Tej is one of the special elixirs only available in Ethiopia. Be careful though - this sweet wine packs a punch. Tej is served in tej bet (Téj House, similar to Coffee House), or special bars set up strictly to sell tej either by the glass(glass is called Berele Be-re-lé) or by the bottle to take home. Several restaurants serving traditional Ethiopian fare also offer tej on the menus. The distilling ritual, with glass beakers reminiscent of high school chemistry lessons, is fun to watch.

Ethiopians purchase gallons of honey at a time to produce the mead and the taste can be as individual as the imagination of the person making it. The same recipe can vary from mother to daughter, for the mead is made from instinct as much as from a recipe. The extract of a native Ethiopian tree, the Gesho (similar to Hazel) imparts a bitter quality to the T'ej making it the ideal drink to complement the spicy food of the Ethiopians. The honey- sweet, bitter, dry tone of T'ej is enhanced by the food.

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