Make Ahead

Street-Style Chinese Tea Eggs

January 23, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

A popular street snack in China and Taiwan that's easy (and super fun) to make at home. For a stronger flavor, let the eggs steep in the tea broth overnight in the fridge after you finish simmering them in step 4. You can also freeze the broth and reuse it. —Cynthia Chen McTernan

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes 6 eggs, but easily doubled
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black tea leaves or 1 tea bag
  • 3 pieces star anise, more to taste
  • 1 small stick cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 strips orange, mandarin, or tangerine peel (fresh or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Place eggs in pot of cold water, enough that the eggs are covered by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Rinse the eggs with cold water. One by one, take each egg and tap it gently with the blunt end of a knife or the back of a spoon until the entire surface is lightly cracked. If small pieces flake off, don't worry, but do try to keep the shell intact over the egg.
  3. Return the eggs to the pot and refill with water. I just fill enough to barely cover the eggs, but for the sake of precision, it should be about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water. Add the rest of the ingredients -- soy sauce, salt, tea, star anise, cinnamon, orange peel, pepper, and sugar if using -- and give it a good stir.
  4. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer. The amount of time you simmer your eggs at this point will depend on how firm you like them. I like to simmer them for 2-3 hours if I have the time, uncovered, yielding a flavorful egg yolk and chewy, firm egg white. (Note that if you simmer uncovered, you’ll need to add a cup of water every 15 minutes or so, as the water depletes.) If you like softer eggs, simmer for just 40-45 minutes, with the pot covered. Be warned that these eggs are never the soft, bright yellow yolk eggs you get from hard-boiling for just a few minutes. They often have that greenish tinge that I've learned some people abhor -- it's only natural because they cook for much longer.
  5. Finally, after simmering, steep the eggs in the tea broth overnight for a stronger flavor, or simply enjoy as is. (Note: If your one true love is soft-boiled eggs, you could theoretically simply skip step 4, heat the mixture until warm and flavors have a chance to disburse, then let the soft-boiled eggs steep overnight in the liquid in the refrigerator. The flavor should still come through, and the eggs would be less cooked. If you try this, I would love to know your results!)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cannibalivia
  • lindapindakaas
  • mylittlemillions

3 Reviews

Cannibalivia March 23, 2014
I've wanted to try this for a while. Apparently there are a number of flavor/color variants you can play with. Beet juice sounds especially fun!

(check out
lindapindakaas March 20, 2014
Tried these last night and really liked them! They made my whole house smell amazing while they were on the stove! I boiled them for about 2.5 hours and then left half of them to steep overnight, and took the other three out (wasn't sure just how strong they'd be); tried them in the morning and really liked both! The yolks were surprisingly still rather yellow (some more so than others, oddly enough), and the eggs overall were both tasty and a nice texture (not hard & rubbery). Definitely worth a try! (Will be experimenting more with flavors in the future for sure)
mylittlemillions March 19, 2014
I haven't tried these because... on the street they've been been simmering away all day long (or re-used from the previous days)... so I assume this will make the whites hard and rubbery and the yolk green/grey and taste sulfurous. Doesn't sound appetizing to me. Making these at home controlling the time may be just the ticket to try these out! Thanks!