Tea for Two. Or Four. However Many You Want: Chinese Tea Eggs

Tea eggs.

That’s what I’ve got for you tonight.

saucy eggs

As I was paging through the Eastern China pages of Mama Buddha’s cookbook trying to decide what to make, I was struck by these tea eggs:  a simple yet exotic twist on something so seemingly ordinary makes these little breakfast bites both aesthetically and tastefully extraordinary.


THE book

I actually love hard boiled eggs, though I admit I’ve never been able to get them as perfect as those Europeans seem to, and every time I take a trip across the pond I sing a sad song about it. They’re either too runny in the middle, or too overdone.

Due to the nature of how these are made, they slant heavily into the overdone, but that didn’t really bother me.  These were really easy to make, and the hardest thing about them was peeling them, a problem faced with regular boiled eggs.

cooked egg

To conclude, these were great. If you regularly eat hard-boiled eggs, you’ll really like these. If you don’t, try them anyway.

Recipe from The Great Book of Chinese Cooking


4 fresh eggs

1 cup water

1 ½ TB black tea leaves (or two bags of black tea- I used Tetley British Breakfast)

1 star anise

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soy sauce


1.  Bring plenty of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add room-temperature eggs and boil for 5 minutes, timed from the moment returns to a boil.

2.  Remove the eggs from the water, place in a bowl, and run cold water on them to cool; tap the shells all over just hard enough to crack them, with a spoon, but not hard enough to dislodge any of the shell.  These tiny, irregular cracks all over the egg will enable the tea to stain the surface of the thin membrane inside the shell with a pattern.

peeling egg


See, how pretty!

3.  Heat the above listed quantity of fresh water in the saucepan. Add the tea, anise, sugar, salt and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the eggs and simmer for about an hour. I ended up turning the eggs after thirty minutes since the liquid was not deep enough to cover the whole egg.

4.  All to cool completely in the liquid (once cold they can be stored short term in the refrigerator).  Peel just before serving.


peeled egg

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