Friday August 22, 2008 | 9 comments
Looking for a delicious snack that can be made ahead of time, is easy as boiling water, and beautiful to look at? Look no further! While searching for pictures to accompany T Ching posts, I repeatedly came upon gorgeous photos of “tea eggs.” I had to know more. Why were they called tea eggs? Was it because they are somehow prepared using tea, or were they eaten with tea? Turns out that both are true.
Tea eggs are a popular snack in China, Taiwan and Thailand, sold hot or cold by street vendors. Just like your mother’s potato salad, everyone’s recipe is a little different. I ate one hot — it was delicious; and next day I had one cold, and IT was delicious. Most recipes advise preparing these the day before. Here is the recipe I used:
- 6 eggs
- cold water to cover
- 1 tablespoon black tea leaves (or the contents of two tea bags)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese Five Spice blend
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place the eggs in cold water and bring to a boil; gently boil for five minutes. Cool the eggs by running cold water over them for a few minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, gently tap the shells with a spoon, creating a web of cracks all over the shell. Try not to remove the shell, but if part of it comes off, no sweat: those eggs will be a bit darker and absorb more of the brine, which many people prefer. Cover the eggs again with cold water and return them to the saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and bring back to the boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, for two hours. Add water as necessary to keep the water level an inch above the tops of the eggs. Turn off the flame and let the eggs sit in the brine until cooled, or overnight. Rinse the eggs gently under cold water — to remove the gritty tea leaves and spices – and refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to serve, remove the shells, revealing a beautifully marbled surface. Serve the eggs whole, or cut into quarters garnished with sprigs of parsley. They are a delicious addition to green salad, or made into egg salad with celery and dressing. You will notice that the brine mixture has subtly flavored the white of the egg, while the yolk is scented and flavored with tea. Serve with a pot of tea for a real treat!
Note: much as you are tempted, do not use green or oolong tea in the brine. The long simmering renders these teas too bitter to flavor the eggs favorably.