Chinese tea eggs are tasty and really fun to make because they’re so beautiful! The marbled design is created by hard-boiling eggs, cracking the shells, and then simmering them or soaking them overnight in a mixture of black tea, soy sauce, salt, and sugar.
My basic recipe for tea eggs can be made more flavorful by adding a cinnamon stick, piece of star anise, or slice of tangerine or orange peel to the soaking mixture. You can also use this tea egg recipe to make deviled eggs, using spicy Chinese mustard rather than yellow mustard in the filling recipe, and garnishing the eggs with SiChuan peppercorns.
To make the tea eggs, first hard-boil as many eggs as you want or as many as you can fit in the pot (probably up to six). Crack the shells with the back of a butter knife, and don’t worry that the you are cracking it too hard! The most common problem is cracking too lightly, because even when you think you are definitely cracking very hard, the pattern often comes out too light.
Boil the water with the tea bag, soy sauce, salt, and brown sugar until the sugar is totally dissolved, then add the eggs.
I used Chinese rock sugar, which you can buy at an Asian grocery store, but regular brown sugar is fine too. Chinese rock sugar is good for boiling with fresh ginger to make a sweet and spicy tea which will soothe a cold or sore throat.
Simmer the eggs for two hours and/or leave the pot covered in the fridge overnight. When you peel the shells off of them, a pretty design will be there on the white of the egg!
I cut each tea egg in half and combined the yolks in a small mixing bowl with equal amounts of spicy Chinese mustard and plain Greek yogurt (you could use mayonnaise instead). Then I used this mixture to fill each egg, and garnished the tops with a few SiChuan peppercorns to make an elegant-looking appetizer.
Eggs have a lot of protein so they are very healthy, and besides making tea eggs another fun way I like to use hard-boiled eggs is in ramen soup or bento lunch, decorated with a cute face.
I made this face using a punch tool from Cute Z Cute brand. The tool punches out little face shapes from nori paper or laver.
Tea eggs can be eaten as a breakfast, snack, or with rice as a main meal. Here is my recipe, which will work for anywhere from one to about six hard-boiled eggs.
Chinese Tea Eggs
up to 6 hard-boiled eggs
1 to 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teabag (black tea)
a piece of orange peel, cinnamon stick, star anise (optional)
To hard-boil eggs, place them in a pot full of water and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, turn the heat off and place the lid on the pot. Then leave it for ten minutes, rinse the eggs, and let them sit in cold water to cool down. Hard-boil all the eggs you want to use and then let them cool before you start making this recipe.
Using the side of a butter knife, make cracks in the shell of the egg all around. To make sure that the tea mixture gets inside the egg shell to color it, you can use the point of a sharp knife to poke a little bit into some of the cracks you made.
Choose a saucepan small enough that the depth will be okay to cover the eggs in the tea mixture. If the pot is too wide, the liquid will be too shallow to cover the eggs evenly.
In the saucepan, add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, tea bag, and four cups of water. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer until the sugar is melted. You can also add the orange peel, cinnamon stick, and star anise if you have any of those extra flavorings that you want to add.
Turn the heat to the lowest setting on the stove, and add the cracked eggs to the liquid. Let them simmer for one to two hours, then let it rest overnight in the fridge if you want to make sure the color is dark and the flavor is deeper.
Rinse the eggs and peel the shell off, and serve as a snack. Enjoy!