I FIRST encountered Chinese tea eggs several years ago, when I was in Singapore to cover the activities of the Singapore Food Festival upon the invitation of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB-Philippines), which was then under Rocson Chang. One of the events highlighted during the week I was there was a food fair held in the atrium of one of the malls in Singapore. If I remember right, it was in Bugis Junction. Food booths were set up side by side, displaying different types of Singaporean food treats, and Chinese tea eggs were one of the things that caught my undivided attention. I knew it was Chinese tea eggs only because there was a sign that said so, but it was the first time that I saw them. What fascinated me about them was that when one of the shoppers peeled off the egg shell, the hard-boiled egg displayed dark veins all over the egg white.
Curiosity pushed me to buy one and try it. It tasted like hard-boiled egg, alright, but it had an added flavor dimension to it because of the Chinese tea in which the egg was soaked. Once I got back to Manila (the schedule of the entire four days in Singapore was packed with activity), I researched on Chinese tea eggs and found out how those dark tea-colored veins on the hard-boiled egg were made. But I never really got down to making them until recently.
Here’s the result of my little kitchen experiment on Chinese tea eggs…
enough water to cover eggs entirely
3 tbsps. Pu-erh tea leaves
5 tbsps. soy sauce
1 pc. star anise
½ tsp. five-spice powder
2-3 pcs. cloves
1 pc. small cinnamon stick
3/4 to 1 tsp. sugar
1. Place eggs in a sauce pot and fill with water to submerge the eggs completely. Boil over high heat for 8 to 10 minutes to make sure the eggs are hard-boiled.
2. Remove from the water and rinse hard-boiled eggs in tap water.
3. Crack the egg gently with the back of a spoon to create veins on the egg shell.
4. Put the cracked eggs back to the water in the sauce pot. Add Pu-erh tea leaves, soy sauce, star anise, five-spice powder, cloves, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours. Add more water if necessary.
5. Leave tea eggs in its tea soak overnight not just to enhance the flavor in the eggs but also to heighten the color of the veins.
6. Peel and enjoy.