Tea leaf eggs are a traditional Chinese dish. My girlfriend loves them on a road trip and has fond childhood memories of open tupperware filling the car with their pleasant aroma (mainly the aniseed). I love them for breakfast and to make a flavorful egg salad.
Step 1: Ingredients
The recipe we received from my gf's mother is from an old Chinese cookbook. Her family is Toishan and I hear the recipe is common for Southern Chinese or Cantonese kitchens.
- Hard Boiled Eggs -steam for 13min, chill in water, roll to crack shell
- Strong Cantonese Tea - here's the Cantonese tea my gf's mother always used and brought us as a gift after a few weak batches with a Turkish black tea
- Dark Soy - we buy dark soy and low sodium soy in bulk and refill easy-pour old soy bottles
- Aniseed - couldn't find our exact package as it came straight from Chinatown... this one looks similar
What is shown is the traditional recipe... you can really add or substitute freely. Much like making sangria, bread, jambalaya, really anything... recipes are made to be adjusted :)
--if you are hard boiling fresh eggs make sure to give them three days to settle... the membrane needs to relax or they are impossible to peel
Step 2: Steeping Your Eggs
We keep the eggs in their shell. The traditional method is to roll the eggs which creates a marble texture when steeped. You could just as easily steep traditional hardboiled eggs as you would for pickled eggs...
- Brew an exceptionally strong tea... even with the Cantonese tea I still double the amount I would typically use to make a cup. 2tbsp / cup of water. Brew enough tea to cover the eggs.
- Add Salt, Star Aniseed, Sugar... I always add roughly two big spoons of salt and sugar for batches between 8-20 eggs. I've never noticed any variation. I add 6-8 star aniseeds per batch. Love the flavor and I will start adding more.
- Add cracked eggs to simmering brew... at the end of brewing I add the eggs. Let them sit on the heat for a few min.
- Initial Steep + Add Soy... the whole mixture to steep for 6-10 hours before moving to the fridge. This is when I add the dark soy sauce. I put in almost 1tbsp per egg. That's nearly twice the amount of the recipe in the earlier photo. I suggest starting with 1tbsp for every 2 eggs.
- Extended Steep... we typically transfer to a tupperware when moving to the fridge. We keep the eggs in their shells and add the full mix (including tea leaves). You could peal... suggested if preserving.
--when preserving in a refrigerated mason jar I add a dash of Citric Acid... I'm a fan -see this recent instructable Citric Acid Gets a Shaker
Step 3: Crack + Enjoy
We've enjoyed experimenting with tea leaf eggs. They are a wonderful traditional dish that is fun to share with friends. The flavor is unexpected and enhances dishes that would otherwise call for salt or soy.
- Ramen (shown in photo)
- Egg Salad -surprisingly so good!
- Deviled Eggs
Thanks for reading!! The inspiration for making tea leaf eggs came when first searching for uses for eggs from our backyard chickens. My first two coops are shown here A-Frame Chicken Coop. We live in MN and I posted an instructable on keeping chickens through the winter: Backyard Chickens Thrive in Winter.
Any other egg favorites? Making Vietnamese Coffee was another great use for fresh eggs. Always looking for how other cultures use eggs.
-the cute little image of the chicks is from a kids book shown here on amazon.