Fragrant Tea Leaves Eggs
Many of my fondest childhood memories stem from the kitchen, where my amazing chef of a mom would whip up mouthwatering feasts while I peer across the kitchen counter, listening to the soothing cadence of her voice. I’ve grown up spoiled by delicious home cooking, and now try to replicate the same brand of magic in my own kitchen.
Tea leave eggs is a go-to dish I make whenever I miss home, and I always remember the tap tap tap sound echoing from the kitchen as my mom patiently shattered each eggshell. it’s also a dish my mom used to make for us in distant Canada whenever she missed our ancient hometown of Beijing. Hard-boiled eggs, gently simmered in luminous amber-hued tea, are perfect for any occasion. It could make a sumptuous breakfast, a snack-on-the-go, or an accompaniment to a soupy bowl of noodles. The perfume of the tea leaves infuses the egg, while the briny full-bodied depth of the soy sauce marinates it in flavour.
Here’s my recipe for this delicious rendition of the common egg
What you’ll need:
- 6 eggs
- 3 whole star anise
- a good pinch of Sichuan peppercorn
- 3 tbls light soy sauce
- 1/2 tbls salt
- 3 teabags of Twinning English Breakfast (any dark tea would do)
Start by hard-boiling the eggs – 5 minutes in boiling water should do the trick.
Now, I’m no traditionalist – all I care about is how it taste, and I think any black tea would do fine for this recipe. You don’t need to go out and buy specific Chinese teas for this, and I just grab any dark tea I have around the house. I happen to have a box if Twinnings English Breakfast here, but really, any dark tea (aside from chai) would do.
Once the eggs have been hardboiled, gently tap all over each egg with the back of a spoon to evenly break the shell. This allows the dark tea and soy sauce to penetrate into the egg and submerge it in flavour.
This is the spice mix I use – star anise and Sichuan peppercorn. Really, use as much or as little as you so desire. The broth might seem strong, but you need that boldness to infuse enough flavour into the eggs.
On a gentle simmer, drop in the spice mixture.
For this number of eggs, I like to use 3 teabags. Cut open the tops and swirl fragrant powder into the pot.
I love watching the tea slowly permeate the clear water.
Now, pour in the soy sauce and salt.
Stir well, allow the eggs to simmer on low for another 3-5 minutes. Take them off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before placing them in the fridge. They are most delicious after each egg has had enough time to soak in the fragrant broth and really infuse with flavour. I would save them to eat the following day or the day afterwards (that is, if you can resist!)
The peeling of a tea egg – I love the beautiful lacework pattern made by the shattered eggshell and dark tea.