Easy Chinese Tea Eggs 茶葉蛋

how to make five spice Tea Eggs
For those of you who travel a lot, you know that street food is more than just a quick and delicious way to fill up your tummy but a unique way to learn a new culture from different part of the world.

And there is no exception when it comes to Chinese culinary culture.

One good example is today’s easy and delicious Five Spice Chinese tea eggs 茶葉蛋. a popular Chinese street food often sold along the busy sidewalk or at a wet market food stand.

The point is, tea eggs are ubiquitous in most parts of China just like hot dog can be found in most parts of the U.S.
how to make five spice Tea Eggs
There are tons of regional variations on tea eggs but all of them are based on an important Chinese cooking technique called Lu , aka braising food in a savory and fragrant spice-infused aromatic liquid aka lu shui 滷水.

A basic aromatic liquid can be made using five-spice powder and water or stock but there are more sophisticated versions where more than 30 spices are used.

The technique was first developed hundreds of years ago to flavor ingredients that were bland (i.e. hard boiled eggs and tofu) or otherwise of undesirable taste (gamy meat and offal).how to make five spice Tea Eggs

Overtime, this cooking method slowly evolved into traditional dishes with a wide ranging of regional styles and flavors.

If are not familiar with this technique, I strongly encourage you ready this detailed article I wrote sometime ago.

Notes on Chinese Tea Eggshow to make five spice Tea Eggs

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one standard recipe so different types of tea and spices are used to make the aromatic liquid.

The version I am sharing is based on home made five spice combination.

The most common tea types are black tea and Onlong tea such as Tieguanyin.

Also, it’s worth noting that the loose tea leaves are always preferred but if you don’t have them handy, tea bags are also perfectly acceptable.
how to make five spice Tea Eggs

While there are many regional variations, all the recipes pretty much follow this same flow:

Hard boiled Eggs -> Make aromatic liquid -> Crack the eggs -> Cook the egg in the aromatic liquid -> Soak overnight

Some recipes might ask you to cook the eggs in the aromatic liquid for hours and serve hot. While that’s how the street food vendors normally keep their eggs warm on the street, the long boiling actually makes the eggs hard and dry. I personally prefer to just soak my eggs in the liquid overnight to get more flavor in the eggs.

If you are not too familiar with all the five dry spices used in this recipe, use the following image as a reference.

how to make five spice Tea Eggs
On the other hand, if you’ve been working with herbs and spices, I encourage you to try exploring different combinations of spices to create your own aromatic liquid. A good start point will be here.

Lastly, if you plan to make tea eggs regularly, you can store the aromatic liquid in a fridge (up to 3 days) or in the freezer (up to 3 months) and re-use in the future.

The catch is you have to constantly remove the old spices and replace with fresh ones. Also add more salt or soy sauce once in a while to maintain the saltiness.

Step by step recipe

Yield: 6 eggs

Prep Time:5 minutes

Cook Time:30 minutes

Total Time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 - 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1cup water
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt or to taste

Spices:

  • 1 black oolong tea/black tea bag (use loose tea leaf if available)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1" cinnamon
  • 2 clove (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn

Directions:

To make hard boil the egg. Add the eggs to a pot. Add water until the water level is 1 inch above the eggs. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for another 6 minutes.how to make five spice chinese tea eggsTransfer the boiled the eggs to a bowl of cold water and let the eggs cool to touch.how to make five spice chinese tea eggsGently crack the egg shells against your countertop without breaking the eggs or peeling off the shell.how to make five spice chinese tea eggsTo make the aromatic liquid (aka lu shui 滷水), combine all the ingredients besides the eggs in a stock pot. Bring to a boil and, with a lid on, let it simmer for 30-60 minutes to extract out the aroma.how to make five spice chinese tea eggsThen, transfer the cracked eggs to the aromatic liquid and continue boil under medium-low heat for another 30 minutes. Shut off the heat and let the eggs soak overnight.how to make five spice chinese tea eggs

how to make five spice Tea Eggs