Everything about these Chinese tea eggs will surprise you, especially how good they taste on their own or when paired with a tea blend containing Lapsang Souchog, Keemun, or Formosa Oolong. Dusted with a combination of toasted sesame seeds and coarse salt, the eggs make an excellent hors d’oeuvre.–Sara Perry
LC Not Your Mom’s Hard-Cooked Eggs Note
These Chinese tea eggs were not our mom’s everyday hard-cooked eggs. But we certainly wish they were. We’ve got some serious egg envy going on for those who grew up with these little lovelies as ordinary snacks. Though they look labor-intensive, the technique is easy peasy. Depending on which culture or tradition you embrace, the dye mixture may contain soy sauce in addition to black tea and spice.
Chinese Tea Eggs
- 6 to 10 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel coarse kosher salt or any large-grain salt
- Place the eggs in a pot just large enough to hold them without crowding them and add enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat. Simmer the eggs for 12 minutes. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, remove the eggs and place them in a bowl of ice water until they can be easily handled. Reserve the cooking water.
- Using the back of a spoon, lightly tap each shell all over until it’s covered with a cobweb of cracks.
- Bring the cooking water for the eggs back to a boil. Add the tea leaves, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt. With a slotted spoon, add the eggs. Cover, turn the heat to low, and gently simmer for 1 hour. Remove the pot from the heat and let the eggs steep in the covered pot for 30 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and let them cool.
- To serve, remove the shells from the tea eggs. Eat the eggs whole, halved lengthwise, or quartered. Their flavor is best enjoyed within 24 hours.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
My mother used to make these eggs and I used to make these eggs. It was nice to discover this recipe because it reminded me of just how good these tea eggs can be. They are also incredibly easy to make. I can imagine taking them to a summer potluck in place of regular hard-boiled eggs. I used a Chinese English Breakfast-like tea, but my mom used whatever tea was on hand. I can also see varying the five spice powder with other spices. Sometimes soy sauce is added, replacing the salt, and this gives the eggs a darker pattern. Sometimes sugar is added to balance the saltiness of the soy. You can also let the eggs steep for longer without a problem.
Originally published August 03, 2009