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Chinese and Japanese Tea Egg Recipe
What Are Tea Eggs?
Tea eggs are a treat or snack that are made by hard boiling eggs, cracking their shells alk around, and placing them into a pot of tea and spices. They are then either further cooked at a simmer for two hours more or placed into the refrigerator overnight to absorb the tea and spices.
Either way, tea eggs, originating in the Far East are tasty in that they have a delicate green or black tea flavor combined with a slightly salty flavor from soy sauce, all laced with the tastes of anise and cinnamon or others of your favorite spices.
Today, these traditional eggs are made with berry flavors. During the Easter Season in America, you will find them colored with food dyes, rather than teas, without adding further flavor.
Where Can I Find Tea Eggs?
I learned to make tea eggs from friends that moved to the United States from Taiwan, China, and Korea. The techniques are simple, but a little time consuming, all explained in the recipes listed further below.
I prefer the overnight method so that I do not have to tend to a simmering pot. However, that simmering floods your home with the aromas of the spices. You may even feel that you are walking down a street in Singapore at one of the popular night markets that sell these eggs and many other treats. Tea eggs are also a traditional Japanese dish and are served in the Philippines as well. Other Asian countries have their own varieties.
In Taiwan, every 7-11 store sells tea eggs and they are quite popular, millions of them sold every year. They are as popular as the 7-11 Slushee® is in America.
Light Green Tea Eggs
After the initial cooking, the eggs are either simmered for 2 to 3 hours or placed into the refrigerator overnight.
Light Green Tea Eggs
- One pot large enough to hold 12 eggs under water and a metal spoon to crack the shells.
- One dozen large chicken eggs.
- 3/4 Cup lite soy sauce
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 4 Green Tea bags, (You can use the same amount of loose tea. Just rinse eggs off before peeling them.)
- 2 pieces of Star Anise
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp white pepper and 1 tsp salt
- A few strips of lemon peel (optional) will provide a light citrus flavor.
Some cooks like to add about 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground ginger to the pot for an added kick of spice taste.
One alternative is to do away with all the spices and green tea and use four Chai tea bags instead, with a pinch of salt. Chai contains enough spices by itself to make a flavorful and aromatic egg whose aroma recalls a Middle Eastern market.
Another alternative is to do away with the spices and add 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange juice or other fruit juice, coffee, or even beet juice to change the color and flavor of the finished eggs. With the OJ or coffee, cinnamon and/or cardamon may be a good spice to add to the pot - about 1 teaspoonful of each.
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- Place 12 eggs into the pot and cover with water to an inch above the eggs. Place on the stove top over medium hgih heat. When a boiling point is reached, lower heat to simmer for two minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and remove eggs from pot. While holding each egg in a tea towel, tap each egg all around with the back of the spoon to crack shells in several places. Replace the eggs into the pot and the pot back onto the burner.
- Add all the the ingredients and stir. If liquid is too low, add some additional water.
- Either simmer for 20 minutes, cover, and place the pot into the refrigerator over night or simmer eggs for 2 to 3 hours, according to strength of taste you desire.
- Serve eggs hot with rice or cold. Cold eggs are good in salads or alone as a snack. These marbled eggs can also be deviled for an additional innovation.
Serving Suggestion for Green Tea Eggs
Light Green Tea Egg
|Serving size: 1|
|Calories from Fat||45|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 5 g||8%|
|Saturated fat 1 g||5%|
|Unsaturated fat 2 g|
|Carbohydrates 1 g|
|Sugar 1 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 6 g||12%|
|Cholesterol 185 mg||62%|
|Sodium 75 mg||3%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Find more tea eggs in this book:
Dark Tea Eggs
Dark tea eggs are made in the same way that the Light Green Tea Eggs above are made, but the ingredients in the broth for simmering are slighly different. These ingredients are:
- 3/4 Cup dark soy sauce
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 4 Pieces of star anise
- 2 or 3 sprigs of cloves
- 1 Stick of cinnamon
- 4 Black tea bags
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper or a teaspoon of black peppercorns
In Indonesia, the tea bags (or loose tea) are not used for marbeled eggs. Instead of tea, the cooks use red onion skins that will produce a natural red-colored marble eggs. Yellow onion skins make a very lightly-colored egg. Garlic skins and a bay leaf are often added to the pot as well with the onion skins, along with 2 tablespoons of ground ginger or chopped lemongrass..
Natural Colorings and Eco-Eggs for Easter
Marbled Easter Eggs
If you make Easter eggs in the spring, try making them marbled by hard cooking the eggs and cracking the shells as you would in the first recipe on this page.
Place the cracked eggs into bowls of differently colored food dyes and let the eggs steep in order to pick up the marbled effect. Peel the eggs for breakfast on Easter Sunday or a snack that afternoon. The patterns on the eggs will resemble spider webs and red dye can result in a "Spiderman Egg" for children that love Spiderman. The eggs will also be fun to eat.
You might also want to try tea eggs at Easter Sunday Brunch, if you have guests over to celebrate the holiday.