Tea eggs are sold all over Taiwan and are a popular snack consumed in many Chinese communities worldwide.
Tea eggs are a delicious snack consumed by many Asian cultures. They can be found everywhere around countries like Taiwan – from practically every 7-11 convenience store to more remote locations like a tiny food stall on Lalu Island at the popular resort destination, Sun Moon Lake.
As with most food items, there are good and bad tea eggs, and then some phenomenal ones that people travel long distances to get. One of the best places for visitors to try delicious tea eggs is at local Taiwan night markets.
What are Chinese Tea Eggs?
Basically, these are hard boiled eggs that are marinated in a variety of spices and tea leaves. The original recipes used various spices, soy sauce, and black tea leaves in the recipe. One of the most common seasonings used is Chinese five-spice powder, which contains star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Szechuan peppercorns.
The most common tea leaves used include Pu’er and black tea, which are excellent varieties of Taiwan local teas. Other teas like green tea are considered far too bitter to work well. Some variations of the tea eggs include other spices and ingredients, like mushrooms, and some do not even use tea leaves, but are still called tea eggs.
How to Make Chinese Tea Eggs at Home
- 6 eggs
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 star anise
- 1 tea bag – either black or pu’er tea
- Optional: earthy mushrooms
- Fill saucepan with water and bring the water to a boil, over medium heat.
- Add the eggs, turn the fire off and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Drain and allow eggs to cool.
- Once cool, place each egg on the counter and gently roll with the palm of the hand so the shell cracks all over. Do not remove the shell from the egg though.
- Fill the saucepan with clean water and add soy sauce, five spice seasoning, star anise, salt, tea bag, and mushrooms if applicable.
- Bring water to a boil and place the cracked eggs in the saucepan.
- Place on low heat and let the eggs simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and allow eggs to continue steeping in the mixture.
- When slightly cooled, place eggs and liquid into a glass or ceramic container to steep further in the fridge.
- Eggs can be served either hot or cold based on personal preference.
For best results, allow the eggs to steep at least two days in the refrigerator to ensure the spices fully blend into the eggs. For those who like sweeter eggs, consider substituting a couple tablespoons of sugar instead of salt.
Appearance and Taste of Chinese Tea Eggs
If the eggs are properly steeped, they should have regions of light and dark brown when the peels are removed. Long dark brown tones should appear along the cracks of the shell. The yolks should have a thin greyish layer with the inside center being a normal yellowish color.
The flavor of these eggs can vary based on spices and the type of tea used. Typically, Chinese tea eggs have a salty and earthy flavor. The tea enhances the flavor of the egg yolk, and the use of mushrooms really brings an earthy quality to the whites. For those watching cholesterol, just remove the yolks and eat the hard boiled egg whites, which are delicious when consumed on their own.