As the Chinese New Year approaches (on Friday, January 31), sharing a recipe for the traditional Chinese tea egg seems extremely appropriate.
Did you know that 2014 will be the Year of the Horse? According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Horse is “a time for all people to go forward confidently in the direction of their goals and dreams, just as the horse gallops at top speed toward its destination.” I’m so glad I stumbled upon this because this is how I am already feeling about 2014…like I’m ready to make strides toward my dream career.
Anyway, back to the tea egg. While a traditional Chinese snack, versions of the tea egg can be found in other Asian cuisine culture, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Indonesia. Tea eggs are hard boiled then lightly cracked and steeped for a while in a mixture of tea, spices and other seasonings. Lightly cracking the cooked egg’s shell allows the outside of the egg to become beautifully marbled by the liquid it’s steeped in. And the spiced liquid infuses the egg with flavors ranging from bitter to sweet to salty depending on the mix of tea and spices used.
For my tea egg, I used my own Zanitea Citrus Spice tea blend (a mix of Assam black tea, orange peel, star anise, cloves and pink peppercorns) to flavor the eggs. The black tea and star anise in the blend definitely give these tea eggs a proper Chinese flavor. You can snack on these gorgeous eggs for breakfast, chop them into a salad or slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks to make an Asian inspired deviled egg. At a recent tea-infused dinner event I hosted with my brother in Puerto Rico, we served my Citrus Spice tea egg alongside an orange marmalade glazed duck confit that sat atop a bed of mixed greens tossed with a Citrus Spice tea and marmalade vinaigrette. Talk about mouthwatering!
Happy cooking and sipping…and Happy Chinese New Year!
Citrus Spice Tea Egg
Adapted by Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie from the Tea-Marbled Egg recipe in the Culinary Tea cookbook by Cynthia Gold and Lisë Stern.
Makes 12 tea eggs
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 ½ cups water
3 tablespoons loose leaf citrus spiced black tea blend*
*You can use any of your favorite spiced tea blends. If you want something Asian themed, try to stick with a black tea blend that has some star anise in the mixture. You could also try a smoky Lapsang Souchong or a flavored sesame tea and add your own spices, like star anise, cloves, cinnamon and Schezwan peppercorns.
1. Place the eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water. (Tip: Adding a few teaspoons of salt or vinegar to the water may help make the egg shells easier to peel off later.) Bring the eggs to a boil then remove them from the heat and let them stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the hot water and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
2. Once the hard boiled eggs have cooled enough to handle, gently tap each with the back of a large spoon all over to create light cracking. You just want to get the cracks started, you don’t want pieces of the shell to start to peeling off.
3. Clean out the saucepan you used to boil the eggs and add to it the soy sauce, brown sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture boils, add the loose leaf tea, reduce the heat and add the lightly cracked eggs. Simmer the eggs in the tea and spice mixture for 10 minutes. If the liquid does not fully cover the eggs, add more water until it does.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it stand until it cools. Then cover and refrigerate the eggs in the liquid for at least a few hours and up to 2 days.
5. When you’re ready to serve, peel the cracked eggs to reveal a gorgeously marbled tea egg. The unpeeled tea eggs will last several days in the refrigerator.