T'ej (pronounced Tedj) is an Ethiopian (and Eritrean) mead and as much as 80% of Ethiopian honey - the largest honey producer in Africa - is used to make T'ej, Ethiopia's most popular drink. Most Ethiopian farmers use primitive hives hung in trees or clay pots to produce honey - much less efficient than modern boxes.
The earliest references to T'ej date back 1800 years. T'ej is made from honey, water and gesho - the dried stems and leaves of Rhamnus prinoides, the shiny-leaf buckthorn and a relative to Rhamnus cathratica - the common buckthorn, a native of Eurasia introduced to North America in the 1880s. Originally an ornamental shrub, common buckthorn is now considered an invasive species.
The Ethiopians use gesho as a laxative, purgative, diuretic, to prevent syphillus, to stimulate bile flow and to provide bitterness and flavor to beer and mead. Like hops, gesho is bitter and has antibiotic qualities.
Most Ethiopians drink T'ej from small containers called a berele that looks like a piece of lab equipment. They either make their T'ej themselves or drink it in small neighborhood T'ej bars that make their own T'ej. T'ej in its native land is a more rustic, potentially much funkier, and varied drink than the T'ej available here which is produced by wineries and filtered. For one of the best sites for information on T'ej, try Harry Kloman's website: