Tea steeped with spices such as cinnamon, cloves and star anise give these Chinese Tea Eggs a truly unique aroma and flavor. The dark color of the tea seeps into the very lightly cracked egg shell to create a really cool marble effect.
Chinese Tea Eggs (also known as Marbled Tea Eggs or Tea Leaf Eggs) are a very popular snack in Asia. Here in Malaysia, you’ll find Tea Eggs sold at most shopping malls in tea and Chinese herb shops. They strategically place a little cart with a large rice cooker filled with Tea Eggs right outside their shop. They always leave the rice cooker lid off so that the sweet aroma would draw customers in.
These Tea Eggs are essentially hard boiled eggs that are steeped in an aromatic tea. After the eggs are hard-boiled, the shell is lightly cracked before it’s steeped in the tea for several hours.
This is not just any ordinary tea – in addition to the tea leaves, we add spices such as cinnamon, star anise and cloves. This gives it a truly unique aroma and flavor. The dark color of the tea seeps into the very tiny cracks in the egg shell, creating a really cool marble effect on the egg.
Not only do they look pretty, they are also very tasty. If you are tired of plain ol’ salt and pepper on your hard boiled eggs (or here in Asia, soy sauce and white pepper), give these Tea Eggs a try. You’ll never look at hard boiled eggs the same way again.
Bonus: Hard boiled eggs are a super healthy snack with lots of protein and nutrients.
Here’s how to make them:
(Scroll down for the printable recipe)
Place 5 eggs in a saucepan and fill the saucepan with just enough water to cover the eggs by about 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda into the water. The baking soda will make it easier to peel the eggshells later.
Place the saucepan over high heat. As soon the water reaches a rolling boil, turn off the heat then immediately cover the saucepan. Let it sit for 15 minutes (no peeking!) Pour out the hot water, then run cold tap water over the eggs for about a minute to cool them down quickly.
Now, use the back of a tablespoon to gently tap all over the egg shell. You’ll want to tap hard enough to break the outer shell slightly, but don’t tap so hard that the inner membrane tears as well.
This is what will give the egg that really pretty marble design once it has steeped in the tea long enough. When you’re done with all the eggs, set them aside while you prepare the tea mixture (…and for your kitchen to smell absolutely amazing!!)
Fill your saucepan with 4 cups of water, 4 tablespoons of Chinese tea leaves (I recommend either Chinese black tea, Oolongor Pu-erh tea), 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of 5-spice powder, 1 whole star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 whole cloves, and about 3 inches of orange peel. Give it a good stir, then carefully add the eggs one by one.
Cover the saucepan and let it simmer over very low heat for 1 hour. Then, turn off the heat but leave the saucepan cover on.
Let it sit for at least 4 more hours. The longer it sits, the more flavor the egg is able to soak up. You can let it sit overnight for maximum flavor.
When you’re ready to enjoy the Tea Eggs, simply take them out of the tea mixture and break the shell open.
There you have it! Chinese Tea Eggs.
Chinese Tea Eggs
- Place the eggs in a saucepan, then fill the saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs by about 1 inch.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in to the water. The baking soda will make it easier to peel the egg shell.
- Place the saucepan over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn off the heat and immediately cover the saucepan. Let it sit for 15 minutes without opening the lid.
- Drain the hot water, then run cold tap water over the eggs for about a minute to cool them down.
- As soon as the eggs are cool, use the back of a tablespoon to gently tap all over the egg shell. Use enough force to break the outer shell slightly, but not too hard where it will tear the inner membrane. Set the eggs aside while you prepare the tea mixture.
- Fill a saucepan with water, Chinese tea leaves, soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
- Add 5-spice powder, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange peel.
- Stir the mixture well, then carefully add the eggs.
- Cover the saucepan, then let it simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
- Turn off the heat but leave the cover on. Let the eggs continue to steep in the tea mixture for at least another 4 hours, up to overnight.
- Take the eggs out of the tea mixture.