February 11, 2013

Chinese Tea Eggs 茶葉蛋 - Egg Art

chinese, eggs, tea, tea eggs, 茶, 葉蛋, 茶葉蛋
By Published: 2013-02-11
If you love eggs and you love art, surely you will love making and eating Chinese Tea Eggs 茶葉蛋.  What other food could provide such a deep visual artistic satisfaction while at the same providing an eggy snack that is really delicious, filling and unique in taste?

You can find tea eggs in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and anywhere there are Chinese people as the age old folksy 'go to' snack for the traveler or the person on the go.  In Hong Kong they even sell them mostly at the convenience stores now.  How ironic yet fitting in a way.  But really, buying a Tea Egg is missing the point.  It is so simple and fun to make your own.

Note: this is a repost because I seemed to have killed the original post in one of my 'coding' experiments.

chinese, eggs, tea, tea eggs, 茶, 葉蛋, 茶葉蛋

My first taste of the Chinese Tea Egg was from a kind lady who lived a few houses down from my childhood home.  She was a marvelous cook and, among other delicious foods, used to make big batches of her wonderful tea eggs (more like small mountains) and then invite the children in from our street play for a quick, yummy snack.  

The wonder of that first egg, the breathtaking cracked porcelain glaze on a hitherto uninteresting plain white.  The hesitation to bite into the prettiness and then, once bitten, the quick demolishing of the savoury, tea infused egg.  Honestly, I couldn't quite believe that it really was an egg as all the hard boiled eggs I had had before then had been dry throat choking affairs that required frequent sprinkles from the wee doll sized Morton Salt container that was my special kitchen treasure until it got lost. 

Anyways, from that first egg on, I have loved Chinese Tea Eggs.

chinese, eggs, tea, tea eggs, 茶, 葉蛋, 茶葉蛋

You could knock out a room of people with the artistic marbled beauty of these eggs.  But not if they are Chinese.  For the ever practical Chinese, they are used to the Tea Egg and therefore take it for granted and never think twice about them anymore.  This is very Chinese.   They will just say "Oh, it's just Tea Eggs.  What's the big deal?"  The Chinese are sometimes very hilarious.

chinese, eggs, tea, tea eggs, 茶, 葉蛋, 茶葉蛋

To achieve the beautiful pattern the egg shells must be cracked after first hard boiling the eggs.  When you crack the egg, do it gently with a spoon or something.  The trick is to throughly crack the egg in as many cracks as you can, but to not break the membrane that lies directly beneath the shell.  Breaking the membrane will cause a dark even patch instead of the delicate lines.  

For the spice mix, use the recipe as a starting point and experiment.  Just remember to only use black or red tea:  we use Pu-erh tea because it rocks and also because that is the tea we drink everyday.

chinese, eggs, tea, tea eggs, 茶, 葉蛋, 茶葉蛋
Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe 茶葉蛋
(Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time: 50 mins)



Put eggs in pan with cold water to cover and heat over medium heat until boil.  Turn down heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove and refresh in cold water.  When cool enough to touch, gently tap the eggs to crack the shells all over.  

Put cracked eggs into a pan with all the rest of the ingredients.  Add water to cover.  Heat until boiling, turn down heat and let simmer for 40 minutes, turning carefully occasionally and adding water if needed.  Turn off heat and let eggs cool in the liquid.  To serve, peel egg and carefully slice into quarters and arrange on plate.  Strain cooking liquid through mesh strainer and drizzle a bit onto the plate and serve.

To store, remove eggs to bowl.  Strain the cooking liquid to remove all the tea leaves, etc.  Pour the cooking liquid in with eggs, cover and refrigerate.  These eggs taste even better the second day!



  1. Those look great! I really want to try it.

  2. These were great. Beautiful works of art quickly demolished by housemates who asked me why I didn't just get them at 7-11... But then told me mine were tastier.

    I'm wondering what to do with the 黑黑香香的 strained liquid leftover. If I top it up with some cinnamon and allspice, could I use it to make a new batch?

    1. So glad that your housemates were won over! And yes, definitely you can use the liquid again to make a new batch, just top up with a bit of everything and make more tea egg art! ~ellen