Make Your Own Stunning (and Delicious!) Taiwanese Tea Eggs
If you’re on the hunt for a food to fuel your craziest weeks—that looks pretty while doing it—the Taiwanese tea egg is waiting for you. Think of it as a classic hardboiled, but kicked up a notch with a gorgeous pattern and a hit of umami. The original version can be labor-intensive, but the photographer and ceramicist Debbie Carlos walked us through how to make her simplified version that you can easily whip up in a jiffy for a chic breakfast or afternoon snack.
AN INTRO TO TEA EGGS
“The scent of tea eggs simmering brings me back to childhood summers and winters spent in Taipei visiting family. Although my grandmother was an amazing cook, we did not make tea eggs at home. Instead, every morning I’d go down to the little alley market around the corner from my family’s apartment and buy them there—or sometimes even at the corner 7-Eleven if I also wanted to get junk food and look at laminated, wallet-size pictures of Chinese and American pop idols. These days, homemade tea eggs are a lifesaver for me during busy weeks. I’ll make a batch on the weekend, and I’ll have them as a quick breakfast alone or on toast with a bit of mayo, salt, and white pepper. One has the perfect amount of protein if you need an afternoon pick-me-up—and if you’re making ramen, just pop one into the bowl on top of the noodles.”
- 3 to 5 eggs
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon black tea leaves or a couple tea bags (I use oolong tea, but you can use any black tea)
- Orange peel
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Gently place the eggs in a pan of almost-simmering water. After the water begins to boil, cook the eggs for about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer the eggs to the ice water to cool. In the same pan, bring another four cups of water to a boil, and then add in the rest of the ingredients. You can place the tea leaves and aromatics in a cheesecloth bundle for easier cleanup, but I just dump everything in the pot. Gently crack the egg shells all around using the back of a spoon, but be careful not to remove any of the shell. Put the eggs back into the pot and simmer gently for at least one hour. At this point, they’ll be ready to eat, but for even more flavor, you can let them sit in the liquid for another hour or two with the heat on the very lowest setting. Store in the fridge for up to one week. Once peeled, they have an almost marbleized color and a delicious, salty-sweet flavor.
Images courtesy of Eat Pomegranate Photography.