Tea eggs are one of my favorite ways to cook eggs. Not only do they make an amazing presentation, but they taste good too.
My brother went home for the weekend recently. Which means only one thing when he came back: lots of food from mom, including these chinese tea eggs. I know how to make the eggs myself and have made them before, but most of the time I’m lazy. It’s not hard to make, but it does require a lot of waiting while the eggs stew to develop flavor.
Tea leaves, anise and other spices are boiled with the eggs creating a savory hard boiled egg. Eggs are first hard boiled. Then the shell is cracked in several places before the eggs stew in a pot of tea leaves, five spice powder, soy sauce, salt. As the eggs stew, the tea sauce seeps through, staining the white skin of the eggs. Because of the cracks in the shells, it creates this beautiful marbled pattern when you eventually peel off the shell.
Because these take so long to make, it’s best to make a large pot. They usually can last close to a week in the fridge. We recently discovered that if you keep the eggs in their shell and in an egg carton in the fridge they somehow last longer. I don’t know the explanation. I just know it works. We used to keep them in containers together but they would go bad within a few days. But for some reason placing them in the original egg cartons works.
Here’s my mom’s recipe:
Chinese Tea Eggs
2 red or black tea bagsor 2 tbsp loose tea leaves
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons salt
1 chinese spice bag (or use chinese five spice powder)
1. Boil eggs until thoroughly cooked (hard boiled). Then set eggs aside and let cool.
2. Once eggs are cooled, crack shells of eggs, but do not let the shell come off the eggs. I usually gently crack them against the counter. And then I use a meat tenderizer mallet to make additional cracks. Make sure to make cracks all around for a prettier cracked egg shell look. You want the cracks to be deep enough to penetrate to the inside of the egg, but not too deep that the egg shell will fall off the egg.
3. Place eggs in a medium pot. Fill water to about one inch above eggs. You can always add extra water if your water level begins to get too low.
4. Bring to boil the water with two tea bags, soy sauce, salt, and one chinese spice bag. You can usually find the spice bag at a chinese grocery store. If you can’t find this at your local asian grocery store, you can use about 1 tbsp of chinese five spice powder.
5. Cook the eggs with the tea mixture on a low simmer for about 2 hours. Keep lid on to keep water mixture from evaporating.
6. Let the eggs, submerged in the water mixture sit in pot overnight (about 8 hours), to allow the eggs to absorb the flavors.
7. Bring the water mixture to a boil, and cook at a low boil for an additional 1-2 hours. Eggs can be served hot or cold.
You can store eggs in the fridge, leaving shell on. This will allow the eggs to store longer. Also if you keep the original egg carton, place the eggs stil1 with shell on in the egg carton and store in fridge. Refrigerated eggs last about a week or more with this method.