A popular drink in Ethiopia is Tej. This is a kind of mead (honey wine) with a slightly bitter taste. When making Tej, a plant is used which has the same effect as hops in beer. The name of this plant is gesho (Rhamnus prinoides). With the following recipe I make my own version of Tej. I use hops (as I have no gesho) to produce the bitter taste effect.
In Ethiopia, Tej is made with an open fermentation which starts spontaneously. I follow a method where I start with a sterile must (sterile by boiling) to which I add yeast (wine yeast). The result is a wine which is much clearer than the real Ethiopian Tej (which is not transparent) and the taste is a bit drier (less sweet). It is my favorite wine recipe.
Ingredients for 20 liter Tej:
- 5,4 kilo honey (liquid gold)
- 50 gram hops (I use granules made of dried flowers of hop, which often can be found in shops that sell products for brewing beer)
- 3 teaspoons wine yeast (super yeast)
- 4 teaspoons yeast nutrients
- 2 cups strong tea
Dilute the honey in boiling water. Boil for a little while, stir and remove the foam which forms on the top. Boil the hops in two or three liters of water for a couple of minutes. Mix all in a big bucket and add two cups of tea. Cover with a piece of cloth and let it cool down. Add yeast and yeast nutrients. Now stir two times per day for about 6 days. Then sieve the must through a double cotton cloth. Add boiled water (cooled down) until 20 liters. Keep it in a glass container under a water lock. When the fermentation has almost stopped (s.g. about 1.002) siphon one time. Bottle and keep it for a few month to mature. Often it turns out to be slightly sparkling wine because at the time of bottling there are still some sugars present.