Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

When the flat starts smelling like a traditional herbal medicine shop, you know the Chinese Tea Eggs are brewing on the stovetop. Jonathan will start complaining because he hates the star anise smell, but it brings me back to my childhood.

Chinese Tea Eggs

Growing up, my mom always made these Chinese Tea Eggs whenever we went to a potluck dinner. It wasn’t unusual for her to buy 48 eggs, pull out the largest pot we have in the house and start cooking. The pot would sit on the stove all day so the Chinese Tea Eggs had ample time to absorb the potpourri of flavors.

Chinese Tea Eggs

Whenever I visited Taiwan too, I’d pop into the local convenience store and grab a couple of these goodies. Amazingly, according to Wikipedia, 7-Eleven chains alone sell over 40 million Chinese Tea Eggs each year! Maybe many of you have contributed to that number, but in case you haven’t had these delectable treats before, I wanted to share a recipe for you.

Chinese Tea Egg Shells

I love the spiced taste of Chinese Tea Eggs, but what always fascinated me was the cracked patterns along the eggs and shells. It’s a bit like snowflakes because no two are ever the same. If you want a darker pattern, you can use more soy sauce, or a dark soy sauce. I only stock light-low-sodium soy sauce at home, so the patterns are a bit faded on my Chinese Tea Eggs.

Chinese Tea Egg

These days, I only make Chinese Tea Eggs when Jonathan and I are in a fight (It’s my immature way of taking advantage of any cold war we wage on one another, since I know he won’t complain about the smell. Just how petty can we go?), or when he’s gaming (because he’s tied to his computer for at least an hour). If you follow Jonathan’s twitter, you might have seen that we haven’t fought in a while. That just means that I haven’t had many opportunities to make Chinese Tea Eggs, and when a craving hit, it hit hard. Lucky me though, he still games often. [Note: This is not an affiliate paragraph. Just a lot of links because his blog is so funny I love it.]

Chinese Tea Eggs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These spiced and savory eggs are simple to make and delicious on their own. It is best to make it the night before, so you can let the eggs soak in the tea overnight in the refrigerator.
Author:
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6 eggs
Ingredients
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (I used light soy sauce, but use dark soy sauce if you would like a more defined pattern)
  • 2 cups of water (approximate)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Peel of ¼ of an orange
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon sliced ginseng
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons black tea leaves (about 3 grams)
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, boil the eggs for about 5 minutes. Drain the eggs and let them sit in a bowl of cold water until the eggs are cool enough to handle.
  2. Using the back of a small spoon, tap all around each egg, until the eggshell is cracked through, but still intact. If small pieces of the eggshell come off, that is fine, but try to keep the eggshell all in one piece around the egg.
  3. Put the eggs back into the saucepan. Add the soy sauce into the saucepan. Add in just enough water to cover the eggs (I used about 2 cups of water for my saucepan). Add in all the ingredients.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
  5. Allow the saucepan to cool, then transfer it to a refrigerator to sit for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

The beautiful stoneware used in these photos are from Minor Goods (I love them!).

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