How to Make Tej

Two Methods:Traditional TejShortcut Tej

Tej (or t'ej) is an Ethiopian honey wine. There are many ways to make this alcoholic beverage, but the simplest tradition only requires honey and water. If you're short on time, you can also make a shortcut cocktail version of the drink using honey, water, and white wine.

Ingredients

Traditional Tej

Makes approximately 1 gallon (4 L)

  • 1 quart (1 L) honey
  • 1 gallon (4 L) water
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) edible flowers (optional)

Shortcut Tej

Makes approximately 4 cups (1 L)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) white wine
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey

Method 1
Traditional Tej

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    Boil the water. Pour the entire 1 gallon (4 L) of water into a large saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.
    • Let the water boil for 1 or 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
    • This step is only necessary if you are using tap water, since tap water tends to have contaminants like chlorine and hard minerals. If you decide to use distilled water, you can skip this step.
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    Prepare any fresh edible blossoms. While it is not necessary, you can flavor the tej with edible blossoms, like dandelions or violets, or other herbs.[1]
    • Collect the herbs and wash away any dirt and other contaminants.
    • Chop the blossoms into rough pieces, then scatter them in the bottom of the crock or jar you plan to use.
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    Pour in the honey. Pour the full 1 quart (1 L) of honey into the crock or jar you wish to use. The honey should be poured directly over the previously prepared blossoms, if applicable.
    • Raw, unpasteurized honey works best for this process, but commercially prepared honey will also work if it is the only available option.
    • It is easiest to use a large crock or similar earthenware pot when preparing a large batch of tej. If necessary, though, you can use smaller glass jars instead.
    • Make sure that you distribute the ingredients evenly among all vessels when using multiple jars.
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    Cover the honey with an equal amount of water. Pour 1 quart (1 L) of your prepared room temperature water into the crock of honey. Stir well until the honey is dissolved.[2]
    • Use a wooden spoon for best results, and use the same wooden spoon to stir the tej throughout the entire fermentation process. Do not wash the spoon in between steps. “Good” fermentation bacteria can build up in the porous wood, thereby encouraging better fermentation and enhancing the final flavor of the beverage.
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    Add the remaining water. Pour the remaining 3 quarts (3 L) of water over the diluted honey in the crock. Stir well to combine.
    • The texture of the mixture should be even throughout the entire batch.
    • If you taste the mixture now, it will seem very sweet. This sweetness will become more subdued as the drink ferments, though.
    • Make sure that there is at least 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of space at the top of the crock or jar after you pour the water in. This extra space will make it easier for you to stir the mixture.
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    Allow the mixture to rest for three to seven days. Cover the top of the crock with a cheesecloth or clean dish towel. Set it aside in a warm place and allow it to ferment for several days, or until fizzy froth begins to appear on the surface of the liquid.
    • Mix the beverage two or three times a day during this step.
    • Covering the crock with a cloth will prevent dust and pests from finding their way inside, but the porous quality of the cloth will allow natural yeast to slip in and work on your beverage. Do not cover the crock with a tight lid.
    • Ideally, the liquid should ferment in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 and 26.7 degrees Celsius). Sitting it on a table or counter out of direct sunlight will usually be sufficiently warm.
    • The exact amount of time can vary, and the beverage will need a longer initial fermentation period if the air around it is somewhat cold.
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    Strain out any solids. Once the initial fermentation period is over, pour the beverage through a fine mesh sieve and into a large glass jug.
    • If you do not have a sieve, you could line a funnel with cheesecloth or coffee filters and pour the tej through that. You simply need to strain out any herbs, blossoms, and solid contaminants.
    • You could also use a siphon to transfer the beverage from the crock to the jug.
    • Leave as little empty headspace as possible in the jar. Less access to oxygen is better for the final part of the fermentation process. If necessary, you can fill extra space with additional honey and water in a ratio of one part honey to four parts water.
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    Seal the jug with an airlock. Fit an airlock into the top of the jug. The seal between the airlock and the jug should be very tight.
    • Different airlock designs work differently, so it is a good idea to read the instructions that come with your airlock to determine the proper way to install it.
    • Usually, you will need to insert a special cork or rubber stopper in the top of the jar and fit the airlock into a hole positioned in the center of that stopper. Add water, brandy, or vodka to the airlock, filling it halfway, before securing the the lock with its cap.
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    Ferment the tej until the bubbles stop. Return the beverage to a warm location and allow it to ferment for two to four weeks.
    • As before, the ideal temperature range is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 and 26.7 degrees Celsius).
    • The exact amount of required fermentation time can vary. Essentially, though, you simply need to wait until bubbles no longer form in your airlock. Once the bubbles stop, the yeasts inside the beverage are no longer consuming sugar and producing gas.
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    Bottle the final product. Pour the finished tej into glass bottles. Seal the bottles with corks or snap tops.
    • You may find it easiest to pour the tej into the bottles using a funnel. A siphon could also be used to transfer the tej from the jug to the bottles.
    • Note that you will need to remove the airlock cap before you can bottle the beverage.
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    Enjoy fresh or aged. The tej is now ready and can be enjoyed immediately. If desired, though, you can store the tej at room temperature for several years before enjoying it.
    • Aging the tej will mellow the natural sweetness of the drink, creating a richer, more mature flavor.

Method 2
Shortcut Tej

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    Heat the water and honey together. Combine the two ingredients in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove and heat its contents over a low setting.[3]
    • Stir the honey and water together as you heat them. Continue stirring and heating until the honey is completely dissolved and the mixture seems thick and smooth.
    • This step will usually take between 5 and 10 minutes.
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    Chill the mixture. Pour the honey water in an airtight glass or plastic container. Place the container in your refrigerator and chill the mixture completely.
    • Depending on how hot the mixture became, chilling it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It must be completely cool to the touch before you use it.
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    Combine the honey water and wine. Pour the full amount of cold honey water and the full amount of wine into a glass decanter. Mix well to combine.
    • Use a cocktail spoon or long stirring rod to mix the drink.
    • Continue mixing until you can no longer distinguish one liquid from the other.
    • A light, mildly sweet white wine will work best. Consider a Riesling, Soave, or pinot grigio.[4]
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    Serve chilled. Lightly chill the drink before pouring it into serving glasses. Enjoy immediately.
    • You should be able store this shortcut version for several weeks, but you may need to mix it lightly after a few days if the honey begins to settle.

Things You'll Need

Traditional Tej

  • Large saucepan
  • Kitchen knife
  • 1 to 2 gallon (4 to 8 L) earthenware crock
  • 1 gallon (4 L) glass jug
  • Airlock
  • Long wooden spoon
  • Funnel or siphon
  • Cheesecloth or dishcloth
  • Fine mesh sieve or coffee filters
  • Glass jars with corks or snap tops

Shortcut Tej

  • Small saucepan
  • Mixing spoon
  • Airtight plastic or glass container
  • Glass decanter
  • Cocktail spoon or stirring rod
  • Serving glasses

Article Info

Categories: Alcoholic Drinks | Recipes