Tej is a honey wine made from honey, water and gesho, a hops like bittering agent. It is a common local drink in Ethiopia and served in bars called Tej Betoch, much like their rendition of local pubs.
It is Thursday afternoon in Kay Afar and I just completed a frustrating afternoon of shooting at the weekly market where the Ari, Hammer, Banna and Karo people come together.
Photographing the tribal’s are tricky and far from easy. I am not sure I am ready for a drink just yet but shade and a lot less hostility would be a welcome change. The tej betoch is already filled with locals and tribal’s and it is not even 3pm. They will be here drinking into the evening I’ve been told. I guess if you are going to travel into town for market then you might as well make the most of it.
The honey wine, tej, is sweet and potent. It lacks character. There is no bouquet, no lingering finish or any character you would associate with wine or a well crafted beer. It is slightly sweet and smooth but you feel the warmth from the alcohol really quickly. I would say it is akin to a strong beer in alcohol content but I am sure each brew varies from pub to pub and there is most certainly zero regulation or standard on this local brew. Think of tej more like a local moonshine than a wine.
Oh how I loved the people watching here at this tej betoch. I only wish the afternoon of hostile reception didn’t make me gun shy and I had lots more photos to show you.