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CHINESE FESTIVAL AND RECIPES

43. Chinese tea eggs

茶鸡蛋

Oh, after a sunny morning, clouds shadowed the sky, now the sun is back again. Love the summer feeling…

Are you going for a picnic? — If so, I recommend tea eggs for your basket! :)

It is definitely a treat for me — I love them. They are not difficult to make, only because I am too lazy. :))

Chinese tea eggs

Tea eggs, in Chinese are called ‘Cha (ji) dan’. In simple words — chicken eggs are boiled in the sauce pan with plenty of tea leaves and seasonings.

Since the taste of these eggs get a very strong influence from tea, they are called tea eggs or tea chicken eggs . Their taste is also influenced by other ingredients such as anise star, sichuan peppercorn and so on.

In order for all the seasonings to go into the eggs, the shell of boiled eggs normally needs to be cracked before further boiling. This also means when you peel the shell off, you can see the beautiful pattern printed on the white.

They are savory already, can be eaten as snack on their own, for breakfast, or with boiled rice , they are very convenient for taking for a road trip or picnic. Especially for me, as I have mentioned before that I could not eat a whole plain boiled egg without any salt or soy sauce, tea eggs became my favorite food, and also an easy solution for my parents. :)

Tea eggs are immensely popular, you can get them in many supermarkets, or just in the streets in Northern China . They are normally sold warm, sometimes, you can get them on a stick already peeled– easy for you to eat while keep on walking.

My dad and my auntie made the best tea eggs I have ever tried, mine … can never match. Especially my auntie, she used to boil them for almost two hours, the entire apartment was filled in with aromatic smell — mainly from the tea leaves — you can imagine. :)

But me, I don’t have much patience like my much beloved auntie, so I normally do it in a quick way — by using thermal cook pot. In the evening, after boiling with the seasonings, place them into the thermal cook pot, the next morning, all the taste has gone in the eggs, and they are still warm. :)

Making tea eggs

For making good tea eggs , needless to say, you need relatively good quality tea leaves. Normally, red tea leaves are the ideal ones for this recipe, the colour and taste is much stronger than green tea. I wouldn’t use black tea, because the taste is not very suitable.

However, you do not need “high end” quality tea leaves. Recently, I found on the shelves in Tesco, there are packs of oolong tea in leaves at very good price, which are perfect for making tea eggs . Oh, by the way, tea leaves are better than the tea bags in this case.

Apart from other seasonings, salt is also as one of the essential ingredients. Same as making soy sauce beef salad , flaked sea salt (for example) is the best for making this.

Normally it is a good idea to prepare quite a few, say, at least, 8 or more, since cooking tea eggs requires a fair amount of tea leaves and seasonings.

Tea eggs can be eaten cold, however, if you think it is too cold, (particular after storing them in the fridge), the best way to warm them up is to peel the eggs first, then, put them in a bowl filled with hot water, and leave it for a few minutes, you can get just like the freshly made ones. :)

Here you go how I did it.

Ingredients

Chicken eggs

Tea leaves, salt, dark soy sauce, anise star, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, sichuan peppercorn.

Cooking

(There are two ways of boiling the eggs — to make the white and yolk solid. One is to boil the eggs in clear water and make the crackers on the shell; or boil the eggs in seasoned water, then take them out, make the crackers, and place them back. I used the latter method. )

1) In a deep sauce pan, filling water, and put in 2-3 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of tea leaves, 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce, a few anise star, around 2 cinnamon stick, and 3 bay leaves, a small handful sichuan peppercorns.

Boiling tea eggsBoiling chinese tea eggs

2) Place the eggs in the water.

3) Turn on the fire to full, bring the water to boiling.

4) When the eggs are well boiled (the white and york are no longer in liquid form), take all the eggs out, and use, for example, a serving knife to knock on the shell of the eggs, to make crackers on the surface.

Preparation of tea eggsChinese tea eggs

Boiled tea eggs

5) Put cracked eggs back to the sauce pan, at low fire, keep on boiling for further one hour or more. (After this, you can leave them in the sauce pan soaking for a bit longer.)

Ready to eat tea eggs
—– Ready to eat!! 
Chinese tea eggs

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