Chinese Tea Eggs
Wondering what to do with all those hard boiled Easter eggs? I’ve been making this simple Chinese recipe for many years, even when I haven’t been trying to use up leftover eggs. Called Tea Eggs, hard boiled eggs with the shells gently cracked with the back of a spoon are steeped in a mixture of soy sauce and tea. The liquid colors the egg whites with a spider web pattern and imparts a subtle flavor that is much more interesting than a plain boiled egg. When refrigerated and cooled, the subtle flavor imparted from the liquid makes for some of the best deviled eggs and egg salad around.
Many recipes for Tea Eggs add Chinese star anise and cinnamon to the boiling liquid. When used they produce an egg that makes an interesting appetizer simply sliced in half and served as is or with a bit of Chinese hot mustard for dipping. I omit these flavorings if I intend to use my tea eggs for egg salad or deviled eggs. Use Chinese soy sauce for the best color. Japanese sauces such as Kikkoman have good flavor but the lighter color won’t produce the same dramatic pattern the darker Chinese sauces do.
This makes six eggs but is easily increased to accommodate as many egg as you have.
6 hard boiled eggs
1 cup Chinese soy sauce
4 cups water
2 star anise (optional)
2 tablespoons black tea (or 2 tea bags)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns or whole black peppercorns(optional)
2 strips dried tangerine or mandarin orange peel (optional)
Using the back of the teaspoon, gently tap the eggshell to crack the shell all over. The more you tap, the more intricate the design. Do this with a delicate hand to keep the shell intact. Bring all of the ingredients to a boil. Add the eggs and immediately turn the heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and let eggs steep for at least a few hours. Even better, place in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and steep the eggs overnight, refrigerated. The longer you steep, the more flavorful and deeply marbled the tea eggs will be.
Peel the eggs when ready to serve revealing the marbled effect created from the steeping liquid. Use as you would plain hard boiled eggs.