Tej -ጠጅ (Ethiopian style honey mead) could possibly be the oldest alcoholic beverage in Ethiopian history dating back to the era of Queen Sheba of Ethiopia or longer. Tej is still widely consumed in Ethiopia.
To each their own and I know people love their mead weeks after they bottle it. But, in general, I have seen vast improvements after one or two years of bottle-aging - the more ageing the merier; hence the saying “If ever Patience was a Virtue it is with tej"
I actually believe everyone’s born with gifts. The trick is finding them and the joy of perfecting them in season or out of season. That being said, I always love to cook, bake, knit, decorate, make my own natural remedies and gardening etc., but when I found my niche in brewing, I was over the moon.
I come from a family of fantastic homebrewers. I am here to share generations of Ethiopian style honey mead (tej) with easy step-by-step photoes.
Please note that sanitazing all your fermenting and bottling equipments is part of the tej - honey mead home brewing. A little mishaps and you end up with a batch of moldy tej, which is no fun at all.
On a serious note, when it comes to enjoying tej, we ant’ talking about getting too happy here, just a glass or two, occasionally. "Moderate drinking," as defined by the U.S. Department of agriculture is no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. [Heh, you think woman’s discrimination is a thing of the past.]
Below on display shown - after the primary fermentation of tej, which took about one month and a half, till most of the conversion of honey sweet to alcohol is completed.
The fermentation locks or airlocks as shown on the above disply are a device used in brewing that allows carbon dioxide released during fermentation to escape the fermenter, while not allowing air to enter the fermenter, thus avoiding oxidation.
As shown on the display, you may also improvise and use balloons with small holes on top of your bottle, which more or less will deliver the same purpose as the airlocks.
Just by applying some techniques, you can naturally ferment your home made tej to your desired alcohol content ranging from 2% up to 12% alc./vol.
One of the easiest ways of eliminating the guessing game of your tej alcohol content is using this simple hydrometer shown below.
It's easy and an adventure to brew tej in your kitchen. You can also be creative and upgrade your tej (honey mead) to a range of exotic flavored mead for sophisticated palates by just adding some ingredients like coffee and also spices and herbs like ginger, cinnamon etc. You can also add fruits like banana, citrus fruits and dried fruits.
Shown below on displays are different herbal/flower and spice tej in the making.
The initial fermented tej -mead is racked into a secondary fermenters, where it will age anywhere from 1-4 more months. The rule of thumb is that you can leave your tej to age for years, if you're not tempted to open it. The secondary fermentation allows the flavor nuance to develop in order to further enhance aromas and give the tej - mead a nice touch. The aging process continues even after the tej - honey mead is bottled.
PS: We ain't talking about getting too happy here. "Moderate drinking," as defined by the U.S. Department of agriculture is no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.