Chinese tea eggs for Easter

Well, they aren’t exactly the brightly colored Easter eggs that are so common in the US. These ‘tea eggs’ are actually a classic Chinese snack food sold by street vendors and at cafes. Easy to make, the eggs are boiled in a flavorful mix of black tea and spices. I made these yesterday afternoon and put them in the fridge to snack on today. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many are left …

Making tea eggs is simple, although the eggs must simmer in a liquid for up to 2 hours. The marinade varies from household to household, but generally contains black tea, soy sauce, and spices. I also throw in a bay leaf.

Tea eggs
6 eggs
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use dark soy sauce)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black tea
5 star anise pods
1 teaspoon chinese 5-spice
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Begin by placing eggs in a pan and covering with cold water. Water should be 1″ over the eggs. Cover and bring to a simmer, simmering for 2 minutes.

Remove eggs and gently crack the outer eggshell, but do not remove the shell. This allows the spices to seep into the egg white and to stain the eggs with a spiderweb design. I got a little carried away and cracked them alot. The two darker eggs in my photo are due to the eggs bursting out of the shells while cooking.

Place cracked eggs back into the water and add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours. Drain and allow eggs to cool before peeling.

If you don’t have loose black tea leaves you could also use a tea bag. Green tea isn’t used as can turn too bitter on the eggs.

For stronger flavored eggs, it’s simply a matter of increasing the amount of the ingredients. I find this recipe yields a subtle flavoring that compliments the egg and isn’t overpowering. It leaves a nice medium staining on the eggs which gives a nice presentation as well.

While they may not be as pretty as the traditional Easter eggs, they’ll taste alot better!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ben March 12, 2008, 12:04 pm

    Interesting snack… That’s all I can say. But I’d definitely try them if someone offers me one. Hehehe

  • Peter G March 12, 2008, 2:24 pm

    They look like works of art Allen…great texture and colour.

  • cakewardrobe March 13, 2008, 12:29 pm

    My mom used to make these for me and they seemed soo foreign and unusual to me. I love these now when they are accompanied by a main dish over rice.

  • kimberleyblue March 13, 2008, 12:49 pm

    wow – those are cool! i’ve got to try those.

    lovely photos!

  • kappa March 13, 2008, 1:18 pm

    Ehh.. chiffonade? Aren’t traditional Easter eggs just raw eggs with pretty colours painted on? In which case.. they most likely don’t taste as good as these. :P

    These eggs look pretty awesome! The simple and delicate spider-web design looks great. My only concern is that the eggs would be too cooked after simmering for two hours? I will try them out and see!

  • Anonymous March 13, 2008, 1:34 pm

    Last time I checked there was no Easter egg hunt at the resurrection. Keep in mind the fact that Easter eggs are actually linked to a pagan fertility holiday and early Christians tied the two holidays together to make people more likely to convert.

  • Allen March 13, 2008, 1:46 pm

    All comments from Chiffonade will be immediately deleted. I’m not in the mood for your insensitivity and rude behavior on my blog or other food blogs. Further posting from you will be reported to the proper authorities for action.

  • Allen March 13, 2008, 2:01 pm

    Ben: You don’t sound so sure about these — but they’re really good!

    Peter G: Thanks!

    Cakewardrobe: Glad to see there’s another tea egg lover out there — I had some with rice last night :-)

    Kimberlyblue: Thank you!

    Kappa: Chiff’s comments were deleted, such a rude rude person. The eggs don’t seem all that different in texture to me, even though they simmer for such a long time.

    Anonymous: Sorry about the disruption from Chiff.

  • Katia March 13, 2008, 8:28 pm

    Allen, the eggs look great! I will try them out this weekend, I bet they are great with rice as someone suggested earlier.

    As for the rude comments from Chiffonade, I think she likes tastespotting and assaulting our blogs. I’m glad you deleted I do the same.

    You have a great blog here! :)

  • Amelia March 13, 2008, 10:25 pm

    These look soooo incredibly delicious! I can’t wait to try them out this weekend…

    The only thing is, I’m very much a soft-boiled egg person, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to push past the long cooking time.

  • Allen March 13, 2008, 10:42 pm

    Katia: Thanks for stopping by my blog! Enjoy the eggs this weekend — I think they taste best once they’ve cooled.

    Amelia: Thank you! Try to be patient and allow them to cook for 1-2 hours. They won’t be soft, but they’ll still taste good :-)

  • Maggie March 18, 2008, 10:02 pm

    I’ve seen pictures but never seen a recipe for these eggs. The ingredients sound pretty simple and tasty. My son will love the way they look cracked. Thanks for the idea and recipe!

  • foodhoe March 31, 2008, 2:17 pm

    Beautiful pix and your recipe sounds aromatic as well as delicious. I like the addition of bay leaves!

  • Allen March 31, 2008, 5:12 pm

    Maggie: Thanks! I noticed that someone recently made a version of tea eggs using beets instead (to create a vibrant purple/red color instead). Your son might love this even more!

    Foodhoe: Thank you!

  • Susan April 6, 2009, 3:21 pm

    Allen, I love your website. I just came across it today and can’t wait to try out so many of your recipes. I am very interested in trying out these Chinese tea eggs. However my boyfriend is allergic to the Monosodium glutamate in Soy sause. Is there anything I can use in substitute for it? Thank much, Susan

  • Allen April 6, 2009, 3:32 pm

    Thanks for your question, Susan. I’ve not made them without soy sauce but here is what I would recommend. In place of soy sauce, I would increase salt to 1 tablespoon and increase five spice powder to 1 1/2 tablespoons. You should get a flavorful and colorful egg from this!

  • Susan April 7, 2009, 8:59 am

    Awsome. Thanks so much Allen. I can’t wait to give these a try this weekend.

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