Tella: An Old Ethiopian Traditional Beverage Finds Its Way To The City


Tella has been one of the most underrated cultural drinks in Ethiopia. It embodied the culture of a long history in Ethiopia, dominantly in the rural areas of the country. It’s a tradition that has been adored by many and yet never seems to break out of its common crowds.

There are many kinds of traditional fermented beverages in Ethiopia, not only of animal origin but also of plant origin. In everyday life people enjoy fermented beverages and particularly when having guests, they like to treat them to traditional alcoholic beverages. Tella is one of the household brews, Substrates for their production are from locally available raw materials. Therefore, the basic production method is the same, but the tastes may vary.

Which is made mostly with barley but wheat, maize, sorghum, and teff are utilized depending on the region. Its production process shows the similarity to beer: the addition of malt and gesho which has the same function as hops in beer.

In the urban areas, Tella is becoming more popular within the heart of the capital. A few local restaurants and pubs are introducing the culture again. One of the places that brought this trend is Shifta, a cozy Caribbean restaurant that serves Tella made solely in the traditional manner. 

“We started preparing Tella 3 years ago with a few interested customers. The idea started as a playful idea to bring back the old tradition, and yet we have seen it take over many of our customers, bringing back the forgotten norm to reminisce.” Shifta told Addis Insight

“It takes up to 15 days to fully ferment the beverage, producing up to 50 liters, that can be served for a week,” mentioned Rahel, manager of Shifta

Another pub serving traditional beverages is Selo, named after the slang calling of Tella, a place that is solely dedicated to traditional beverages. Selo not only provides Ethiopian traditional beverages but also the whole interior theme is set to represent the main setting of a local Tella house. 

“It’s not only the drink I enjoy but also the folklore that comes with it, I had imagined the conversations and whole setting that makes me one come more often and search for that specific setting” mentioned Abiy Haile, a customer.

The era where the upcoming generation is going back in history to trace the customs of Ethiopian folklore contributes to the trending signs of Tella and many more not lost but forgotten Ethiopian traditions.