This Chinese tea eggs recipe makes marbled eggs – aromatic boiled eggs that have a marbled appearance when peeled. Steeped in a stock of five spice, soy and tea flavours that perfume the eggs, they’re a tasty snack when eaten on their own, or add soy sauce, chilli sauce and steamed rice and you have a lovely light breakfast.
For this week’s Weekend Eggs post on our favourite quintessential breakfast eggs recipes from around the world, we have a Chinese tea eggs recipe for marbled eggs – fragrant boiled eggs with a marbled appearance when you peel them, that have been steeped in a stock of five spice, soy and tea flavours that permeate the eggs.
You might see this Chinese tea eggs recipe presented as ‘Cha Yip Dahn’ in cookbooks, such as Charmaine Soloman’s The Complete Asian Cookbook. More correctly it is spelt wǔxiāng cháyè dàn or 五香茶叶蛋 in Mandarin, which translates to 五香 – Spiced, 茶 – Tea, 叶 – Leaf, 蛋 – Egg.
If you haven’t visited us in a while, we recently rejuvenated our Weekend Eggs series, which we launched with Grantourismo over ten years ago. Recipes we’ve published so far in our rebooted breakfast/brunch recipe series include Russian devilled eggs, Turkish çılbır poached eggs and menemen scrambled eggs, Calabria’s ‘eggs in purgatory’ with ’nduja, Thai son-in-law eggs, Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Malaysia and Singapore’s half-boiled eggs with kaya jam and toast.
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Now let me tell you about this Chinese tea eggs recipe.
Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe for Perfumed Marbled Eggs Too Beautiful To Eat
This Chinese tea eggs recipe makes a tasty snack if you’re eat these marbled eggs on their own, as they do in many parts of China and East Asia, where you can even buy them at a local mini-mart as you might some cup-a-noodles.
Or you can make a full meal of them and add soy sauce, chilli sauce and steamed rice, and make a pot of tea, and you have a deliciously light breakfast or brunch right there.
These Chinese marbled eggs are traditionally hard-boiled eggs, and even though we prefer soft-boiled eggs, we absolutely love this Chinese tea eggs recipe and are big fans of these beautiful marbled eggs. If you are as well, you can easily make double the number of eggs just by adding a little more stock to the stockpot.
Tips for this Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe
I only have a few tips for this Chinese tea eggs recipe and before you ask, yes, there is a way to make these marbled eggs as soft-boiled, but the results are not as intense flavour-wise, that’s another post. After we add some Lao Gan Ma (chilli sauce) with peanuts and a little soy sauce, we don’t care how soft or hard they’re boiled. They’re so good.
And before I continue: apparently our friends in the United States have caught up with the rest of us the world and gone Lao Gan Ma crazy, but it’s this version of Lao Gan Ma with Spicy Chilli Crisp that our American friends apparently loves – it is fantastic but we prefer the sauce with peanuts for this Chinese marbled eggs recipe.
Now, with the cracking of the eggshell, don’t crack it on a tabletop or use a spoon. What we’re looking for is small, precise cracks all over the exterior of the egg. I’ve found a cooking chopstick to be the best implement. If you don’t have any, now is a good time to buy some cooking chopsticks and get used to using them in Chinese cooking.
Note that this Chinese tea eggs stock just gets better with age. Reheating it after removing the eggs, even just after an overnight soak, the intensity of the flavour is amazing. You can treat it as a stock by filtering out the spices and the tea and refrigerating it for reuse. I’m look at ways to reduce that stock for another dish, it’s that good.
An ingredient that some readers may not be familiar with in this Chinese tea eggs recipe is rock sugar. Often used in Chinese cooking, it’s crystallised sugar can juice, very popular in savoury dishes as it can add an extra sheen to slow cooked meat and sauces. It’s less sweet than granulated white sugar so if you can’t find any in your local Asian supermarket, just use half the amount of rock sugar listed in this recipe.
Some Chinese tea eggs recipes call for five-spice powder instead of the individual spices. To me, this does the dish a disservice and doesn’t make a very good stock for reuse either. Enjoy!
Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe
- 6 Eggs
- 4 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp cloves
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- 10 g black tea
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 40 g rock sugar or 20 g of granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Cool the eggs off in a water bath.
- While the eggs are boiling, prepare the stock by adding all the ingredients (except the eggs) to a stockpot with around a litre of water in it.
- Dry the eggs off and crack them all over using the wide end of a large chopstick. Do not roll them over a table or smack them with a spoon – we don't want pieces of eggshell falling off. Start at one end of the egg and as you turn the egg start moving down the egg to get the cracks all over.
- Reduce the stock to low heat and gently add the eggs to the stock with a slotted spoon. Cover and simmer for up to 90 minutes.
- Let the stock cool down with the eggs still in the stock. At this stage you can leave the eggs in the stock for up to 48 hours. At 48 hours, you need to remove the eggs and refrigerate.
- However long you leave the eggs, do not peel them until you are ready to eat.
- It's traditional to serve this with soy sauce, but we also like to have some Lao Gan Ma (chilli sauce) with peanuts and some steamed rice to make a meal of it.
If you make this Chinese tea eggs recipe please do let us know in the comments how it turned out for you, and if you enjoy it, we’d love a rating below.