January 2, 2022

Lotus Seed Egg Tea 蓮子蛋茶

Lotus Seed, Egg, lotus seed tea, lotus seed soup, chinese, dessert, sweet soup, recipe,  蓮子蛋茶, 蓮子茶

To bring in the new year we present our next delectable Chinese dessert soup.  This subtly delicious and comforting sweet soup will warm your heart and tummy in the depths of any wintery chill. Requiring only a few ingredients, this Lotus Seed Egg Tea (not sure why it’s called a ‘tea’ and not a soup?) 蓮子蛋茶 is deceptively simple to make.  

The result is a beautifully golden hued soup with a clear sweet delicate taste, bejeweled with melt in your mouth lotus seeds and sweet soft red jujubes.  Oh,  and there is the added delight of a hard boiled egg!  The egg is my favorite part, the slippery egg white and the melty egg yolk just tastes so good slurped in with the soup!  It's the perfect afternoon snack for a wintery day, both fortifying and comforting.

Add-on Note: I just found out that this tea is served to newlyweds to symbolize the hopes that they will soon conceive children.  The rather obvious symbols being the 'seed' and the 'egg'--he he!  

Dried lotus seed with sprouts already removed

The first and most important of the ingredients for this soup is lotus seeds 蓮子, which are the actual seeds from the ethereal lotus flower.  You can see in the photo below the seed pod of the lotus flower and the seeds inside each hole.  Isn't it gorgeous looking?  All the parts of the lotus are so beautiful it is no wonder that this flower is a favorite painting subject for Chinese artists.  

The lotus seeds are slighty sweet and pine-nutty in taste and soft, melt in your mouth in texture when cooked.  They are known to help calm the mind and help with insomnia.  It's rare to find fresh lotus seeds but the dried lotus seeds work just fine and are much easier to find.

The lotus seed pod - photo by KENPEI

And that brings up the really cool food tip I want to share. Which I learned cuz I messed up seriously the first time I made this soup!  I made the tea/soup and discovered that my lotus seeds hadn't softened up.  They were edible but kinda rubbery, not soft like how I knew they should be.  I tried cooking them for longer.  I think that just made them more rubbery :(  In frustration I searched online to find if others had the same problem.  

It turns out that there is a super trick to cooking these seeds that surprisingly a lot of recipes neglect to mention.  If using dried lotus seeds (most likely since fresh lotus seeds are hard to come by) the dried lotus seeds should not touch cold water!  Dried lotus seeds + cold water=Game Over.

I had, as one does with most dried beans and seeds,  soaked my lotus seeds in water overnight.    Whoops!  I made this soup again and this time I just poured my dried lotus seeds straight in the boiling water and WOW was there a difference.  The lotus seeds kept their shape but melted in the mouth when eaten.  OMG so good!

Note to self:  I’ve got to go back and review my lotus seed paste recipe!  I’m pretty sure I soaked in cold.  I imagine it would make a difference to the final paste, no?  Look out for a new and improved lotus seed paste recipe soon ;)

Do note another important fact about lotus seeds themselves: they have a wee green bitter tasting sprout inside that has to be removed!  Dried lotus seeds come two ways, some still have the green sprout dried inside and some have had it removed.  

If your dried lotus seeds have the green sprout inside (it will be obvious if you look for it) then pry the seed apart with fingers or tip of a knife until you can get in to remove the sprout.  Try to remove them without splitting the lotus completely in half, that way the round shape of the seeds will stay intact.  It's a bit of work tho' so I recommend trying to find ones with sprouts removed.  

Also the lotus seeds have a brown skin on them that is usually removed before drying but sometimes not.  Buy the kind with the brown skins removed.

You can find dried lotus seeds in your local asian grocery store.  In Hong Kong they also sell them in the local Chinese medicine pharmacies.  Or you can get skinless sprout removed dried lotus seeds online here.

These red beauties are dried jujubes 紅棗, also known as dried Chinese red dates.  These are known as warming food and used to expel dampness, nourish the blood and calm the mind.  They also add a delicious bit of fruity sweetness to the soup.  These jujubes have pits inside the fruit but the dried ones usually have the seeds removed.  You can check to see if they are pitted by looking for holes punched through from end to end, leaving a hollow core.  

These dried jujubes can be found in asian grocery stores, the wet market and also at Chinese pharmacies.  You can find pitted dried red jujubes online here.

Rock sugar 冰糖 is used in all Chinese dessert soups because of its delicious and mellow sweetness.  Rock sugar is easily found in asian grocery markets where you will see that there are two colors.  One white and one yellow.  I'm assuming the white one is more processed.  

We always go for the yellow rock sugar for its wonderful mild sweetness and the beautiful golden hue it gives the soup.  This type of rock sugar is cooling in nature and therefore good for soothing the throat.

As rock sugar is literally sugar crystals, sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) you will find the that rock crystals are big, no huge!  The most recent box I opened up had three really large pieces and a small handful of tiny ones.  Sigh...  Sometimes if your piece of rock sugar is too big for use, you will have to put in a plastic bag, cover with towel and hammer to size.  A bit of effort but special mellow sweetness of rock sugar is WORTH it!

My hard boiled eggs, peeled and ready for the soup.  A cool trick for boiled eggs: If you want to peel the egg shell add a tsp or two of vinegar to the egg boiling water.  Promise the egg shell will slip off smooth as a dream!

All ingredients gathered and ready for cooking!  First boil the water.  When water is boiling (important!) add in the dried and sproutless lotus seeds.  Let the lotus seeds cook for 30-45 mins or until preferred softness.  For me it was fine at 30 mins, keeping its shape but still soft and melty when bitten into.  I like more melty so I cooked for another 15 mins and that was perfecto.  

After the cooking the lotus seeds to desired softness, add in the rock sugar and Chinese red dates and let simmer for another 5 mins.  You can see here that the rock sugar and dates have added a lovely golden hue to the soup. When a minute or so is left slip in the hard boiled eggs to warm up in the soup.  Then all that's left to do is to ladle into serving bowls and serve.

Lotus Seed Egg Tea 蓮子蛋茶 is that simple to make but so yummilicous!  I hope that you and your family and friends will enjoy this comforting dessert as much as me and my little girl did.  Happy New Year from us at The Hong Kong Cookery and enjoy your Chinese dessert soups!

Lotus Seed Egg Tea Recipe 蓮子蛋茶
(Adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen)  
(makes 4 bowls) Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time:30 mins



If your dried lotus seeds still have the green sprouts inside you will need to remove the sprouts.  Use fingers or the tip of a knife to pull the two halves of the dried lotus seed apart and remove the sprout.  If your dried lotus seeds have had the seeds already removed then you're ready for the next step.  It's important to remember that the dried lotus seeds shouldn't touch water at this stage.

Add 6 cups water to a medium sized pot.  When water boils add in dried lotus seeds. Cover and let simmer for 30-45, depending on how soft you like your lotus seeds.  Add in Chinese red dates and rock sugar to taste.  Cover and let simmer for 3 mins.  Add in hard boiled eggs (to warm them up) and let simmer for another 2 mins.

Spoon an egg, some lotus seeds and a few red dates into each bowl.  Fill up the rest of the bowls with soup.  Add a spoon to each bowl.  Serve hot and delicious.  Enjoy!



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