Tea eggs are one of the all time great snack foods. Ever. While in American convenience stores you can find corn syrup done up in a dizzying array of shapes and colors meant to resemble food, in Taiwan’s convenience stores you can find things that actually are food. They might seem a strange snack and completely against what every health guru said in the 80s and 90s, but the slightly salty, slightly spicy flavor is terribly addicting. Which is why Taiwan’s 7-11s sell something like 40 million tea eggs a year.
Since in America you can’t just pop into 7-11 and pick up tea eggs, or maybe in Taiwan the 7 is just too busy or there is a long line of gods or whatever making it inconvenient, you might want to (or have to) make your own. Which I do from time to time. Making tea eggs is easy and they are great for parties, or just an addition to your lunch box.
- 10 to 15 or so eggs, hard boiled, shells gently cracked, not pealed*
- 4 c. (1 L.) of water
- 1 T salt
- 2/3 c. (150 ml) soy sauce
- 1/2 oz (15 g.) Oolong 烏龍茶 or black tea 紅茶
- homemade spice mix/pack**, see options below
Spice Option 1: 5 spice 五香滷水滷包 (the complicated option)
- 3 g. 花椒 sichuan peppercorns (~1 t)
- 2 g. 丁香 whole cloves (~1/2 t)
- 2 g. 小茴香 fennel seeds (~1/2 t)
- 6 g. 八角 star anise (~4 pieces)
- 4 g. 桂皮 stick cinnamon (1 stick)
- 4 g. 甘草 licorice root (~4-5 pieces)
Spice Option 2: Basic (the easy one)
- 2 slices of ginger root
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 star anise
- 2 or 3 pieces of dried tangerine peel
- 1 t of sichuan peppercorns 0r cracked black pepper
- Put the eggs, water, salt, soy sauce, tea, and spice mix/pack into a non reactive pot. Make sure all the eggs are covered by the liquid and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Turn off heat leave all the ingredients in the pot and let the eggs soak for at least 2 hours (I prefer 5hours or more).
- Serve the eggs or store them in the fridge in the liquid. (The liquid can be frozen and reused)
notes *Boiling eggs. I prefer the following method; put eggs in a pan with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Turn heat to med-high bring eggs to a boil and turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. When cool enough to handle gently crack the shells with the back of a spoon… Also as you will notice by the following that the Taiwanese seem to boil their eggs a little differently; They use 10 eggs, 1 L of water, 2 T of salt and boil according to the following directions: 將雞蛋，水，鹽一起放入鍋中， 開小火慢慢煮滾，滾約 3分鐘後再將雞蛋取出用冷水沖涼。I didn’t really notice much of a difference in the outcome.
** Spices can be put into a spice bag or a large mesh tea ball for convenience, but this is not absolutely necessary.