We are very particular about our food. No surprise there. On daily basis, we spend time to cook a table of great food for our family or friends. That goes without saying, we pay attention with two special occasions – we’ll spend a couple of months ahead to prep for Chinese New Year and Christmas. It’s our favourite time of the year to spend time with our love ones.
So, while we were planning and practising our new recipes for Chinese New Year – Joe has a sudden thought and suggested recreating our grandma favourite Chinese Tea Eggs. Our grandma love Tea Eggs so much that we often will purchsase them in the herbal store ans crack it up for her. We cann never stop eating them.
Traditional vs Modern Method
Every time we pass by the herb store, we will see a pot full of Chinese tea eggs boiling in the pot. It tastes bursting with the flavour of that smoky, spiced herbal tea all the way through however with a rubbery egg white and powdery yolk texture- they are using the traditional method. This time we decided to give the modern method a try, marinating them in the tea like the Japanese onsen egg.
How to cook using the traditional method?
Traditionally, tea eggs need to be cooked twice. The eggs are cooked until hard-boiled the first time and then cooked in a savoury marinade for several hours. Start by boiling the eggs, cracked their shells, and boiled them some more in a herbal tea broth for around 6 hours.
How to cook using the modern method?
For the contemporary tea eggs, we boiled the eggs for 8 minutes (a perfect hard-boil by French standards), shocked them under cold water to halt the cooking process, and then marinated the eggs whole in the exact same herbal tea broth, chilled, for a whole 24 hours or up to 4 days.
What type of tea to use?
In terms of tea, you are pretty free to choose whatever is available in your cupboard. Lots of local use loose green tea or jasmine tea since they are the most common types in Chinese households. We discovered that black tea bags are a great choice too. They are darker, stronger, and they save your time: you don’t need to deal with tea leaves which become stuck to the eggs.
Some recommendation of teas is Pu Er, Jasmine Tea and Oolong Black Tea.
Light Soy Sauces vs Dark Soy Sauces
In a Cantonese family like ours, you will find all sort of huge bottles of condiments in our kitchen. For someone who preferred neat, it’s the messiest things I hate to see. But, I couldn’t be more agree that these are the essentials we need for our daily cooking! Both Soy Sauces serve a different purpose, while the light soy sauce adds in freshness and salt to the egg, the dark soy sauce help to give colour and sweetness.
How to cook them?
Now you have all your ingredients you can start cooking them. In a pot bring 4 cups of water to boil then slowly add in the eggs. Place the saucepan over high heat and cook for 8 minutes. Now, use the back of a tablespoon to gently tap all over the eggshell. 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.
In the meantime, we pack the herbs and tea leaves in a soup/ tea bags so that we can remove the tea and herb easily later. Add in the tea bags and cook for 30 minutes and off the heat. Then cover the pot with lid for 4 hours till it cools down before moving it to the fridge.
Tea steeped with spices such as cinnamon, cloves and star anise gives 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. We can never stop having them.
Chinese Tea Eggs | 茶叶蛋
One of my favorite dishes when we head back home; it combines hard-boiled eggs with the subtle flavor of anise and the deep brown hues of black tea and soy. The cracked patterns from the broken shells make these quite attractive!
3 Star Anise
1 tsp of Sichuan Peppercorn
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
tea bags 5 – we uses black tea
1 tbsp of regular soy sauce
1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- Bring the eggs to room temperature by leaving them out of refrigerator for a couple hours.
- In a pot bring 4 cups of water to boil then slowly add in the eggs. Place the saucepan over high heat and cook for 8 minutes. Now, use the back of a tablespoon to gently tap all over the eggshell. 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.
- In the meantime, we pack the herbs and tea leaves in soup/ tea bags so that we can remove the tea and herb easily later. Add in the tea bags and cook for 30 minutes and off the heat. Then cover the pot with lid for 4 hours till it cools down before moving it to the fridge.
- Soak the cracked eggs in your sauce base for 24 hours in the refrigerator, making sure all the eggs are completely submerged in the sauce base. After 24 hours, they’re ready! You can also soak them longer for a stronger flavor. These eggs last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.