The World’s Tiniest Superfood – Q&A with the Teff Tribe

The World’s Tiniest Superfood – Q&A with the Teff Tribe

Billed as the ‘new quinoa’, the world’s tiniest supergrain – Teff – is proof that good things definitely come in small packages.

This unassuming grain is packed full of protein and iron, plus it’s low GI and high in fibre, helping to control blood sugar levels as it aids digestion, assisting weight loss and lowering cholesterol. It’s also a good source of resistant starch which helps to maintain intestinal health by assisting in the development of probiotics.

Every loaf of our newest product, the Teff, Spelt & Sunflower Seed Sourdough, features millions of these tiny little superstars, and we think it’s set to become a pantry staple for every health conscious household in the not-to-distant-future.  teff shepherds bread sourdough

We get our teff from Teff Tribe, the #1 advocate and importer or teff in Australia.  We were fascinated by how the team there came to be involved in bringing the goodness from Africa to our plates, so we sat down with Sam Ellis, Teff Tribe Founder and Director, to ask a few seedy questions…

1)      How did you come across Teff in the first place?

One of our co-founders worked in the agricultural space specialising in grains and after being exposed to a number of niche grains that are increasingly gaining awareness across the globe, teff in particular took his eye.  As someone who enjoyed a health-conscious lifestyle, the overwhelming health benefits of teff were hard to ignore and the more we researched the more excited we became with the potential of this little grain.

2)      What made you decide to champion the grain here in Australia?  What was the lightbulb moment?

Without being a total health nut but trying to live a balanced life, I’ve always kept a close eye on the health food scene and since coming across teff, we are convinced teff will be the next big gluten free grain to make its mark.

After many trials ourselves we fell in love with it. Its rich earthy/nutty flavour alongside its versatility really set teff apart from the competition. As a flour it performs amazingly. Many gluten free options struggle to deliver results in baking and leave you with a very dense and crumbly finish. Teff is much lighter and really does perform much closer to regular flour – and its flavour profile lends itself to sweet or savoury.  As a grain it can be used through any salad or vegetable dish, veggie burgers, porridge, bliss balls and the list goes on. As we like to say it.. ‘From breakfast to dessert, and all the snacks in between. The only limit is your imagination.”  Teff Baking

The final tick of approval for us was when we sat down with a friend who is a head chef, born and raised in Argentina and worked in Italy for 7 years and now works in Sydney. He is a huge fan to say the least and thinks it will “leave quinoa in its tracks” once people get to know it.  These were the final words that we needed to hear to make us start Teff Tribe!

3)      How is it typically eaten in Eastern Africa, where the grain originates?

Teff originates from Ethiopia in North Africa. Teff is traditionally eaten in Ethiopia as a pancake like product called injera. Injera is made a bit like a sour dough and has the same sour smell to it once finished. They eat this pancake like bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner with stews and soups etc.

4)      Nutritionally, how does Teff compare to Quinoa?

Nutritionally teff leads all the grains.  Teff and quinoa stack up pretty close to each other across the core nutritional measures but where teff stands out is that it has 70% more iron and 4 times the calcium of quinoa.  Teff has the highest amount of calcium of all the grains.

5)      Can you tell us some cafes and food producers who are doing exciting things with Teff at the moment?

Well, Shepherd’s Bakehouse of course!!  In addition, Teff Tribe has approached a select few cafes and food producers thus far in the hope they are keen to incorporate it onto their menus.

Being Bondi locals, we have a few places who have jumped on the teff train locally.  Shuk Eatery use teff in their pancakes, falafels and through a brekky bowl; Harry’s Bondi has the most amazing teff porridge that is a must try!  About Life has had teff on their menu for a while now.  It features in their cookies and they are about to incorporate it through an amazing salad soon to be released. Ruby Lane in manly are doing amazing things also.  In Melbourne SOS cafe and Pillar of Salt to name a couple.

Given how well teff performs in baking, a number of bakeries are keenly experimenting with it across a range of products. Early results have been very pleasing I am told.

6)      What’s your favourite Teff recipe?

Teff porridgeI actually cant say I have one favourite teff recipe.  Pancakes and porridge are my go-to for breakfast.  I regularly use it through any salad or vegetable dish I make. I’m not much of a baker personally, but I must admit I do run some brownies now and again and add teff into the mix.

7)      What’s on the horizon for Teff in Australia?  Do you envisage it becoming (like quinoa and chia) a pantry staple for many?

Teff Tribe have some big plans for here and offshore. We are about to release some new products in the ready-to-eat space which is very exciting. I cant give too much away but I will say they are awesome and all showcase teff.

We are passionate about making teff a pantry staple. Its health benefits alone are one factor that cant be over looked. We will continue to develop products that incorporate this little wonder grain with the goal of making its consumption and accessibility as easy as possible.