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Chinese tea eggs

Ever tried Chinese tea eggs? If not, you are missing a treat. Just the smell of them reminds many Chinese of home or of the street vendors who hawk them from sidewalk kettles throughout Asia.

Sometimes referred to as marbelized eggs, Chinese tea eggs are pleasant to look at, simple to make, and even easier to serve. Sorry...no great health benefits because the amount of tea is small and the salt and cholesterol is high...but in moderation, the taste can be a rewarding indulgence.

Chinese Tea Eggs

  Tea Eggs: left-unpeeled. right-peeled

First of all, hardboil 6 eggs. Remove them from the water and cool. Then using the back of a large spoon, tap the egg until the shell is thoroughly crackeled. It is OK if some of the shell splits or falls off, but try to keep the shell intact.

Now, in a slow cooker or crock pot, mix about 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 2 eight spice or star anise and five spice, a cup of black or dark oolong tea (6+ tea bags), a little salt, pepper, and enough fresh water to cover the eggs. Add the cracked eggs and let them simmer for half an hour in the strong tea solution.

Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the fluid until cool. Remove the eggs and peel off the shell just before serving (they peel best when cool).

The strong, dark tea soaks into the cracks and stains the hardboiled egg, making it look marbelized. The egg white also absorbs some of the soy and tea flavor, giving it a delightful, slightly salty taste.

Serve at room temperature or straight from the refrigerator. They make nice decorations to other dishes, or can be stacked on a dish by themselves for a quick snack.

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Reprinted from Qi Journal, Summer 2002


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