Helen’s Easter Cooking – Tea Eggs

At the last blogmeet, FXH and I were talking about Taiwan. I spent six months there in a gap as a student, while FX spends quite a lot of time there. Now that Easter’s almost here it got me to thinking about the Tea Eggs I used to buy in Taipei, from a street vendor with a bucket just like the one shown in the linked Wikipedia article.

Tea eggs are great picnic food, and they’re a nice salty/savoury change from all the chocolate eggs you’ll be eating. Their main claim to fame is that they take on a fabulous marbled appearance, so that they’re also sometimes called Marble Eggs.


To make them couldn’t be simpler, and all the ingredients will be available from your local supermarket (if they don’t have star anise, your Asian grocery will, of course.) Measurements aren’t needed for this recipe. Just think “strong, brown salty liquid.”

Take however many eggs you want to cook, and make enough very strong black (not green) tea to just about cover them. Chinese is best of course, but I use Indian tea sometimes and it’s fine.

Add a few sloshes of soy sauce and some star anise – about one piece for every three eggs I guess, but YMMV once you’ve made this recipe yourself. You need to put in a fair amount of soy so the mixture is dark and salty. You can also add some Chinese Five Spice if you have some. The information I’ve googled up says that most people put salt in as well, but once the soy goes in, to me it’s well salty.

Bring the eggs, in their shells, to the boil until they’re hard boiled. Now take them out, let them cool a little, and gently crack them all over on a hard surface, without removing the shells.

Return them to the soy mixture and soak them overnight or for a few hours. The soy/tea mixture will soak in through the cracks and create the beautiful marble effect that you see in the photo. (H/T)


#1 Dr Sister Outlaw on 11.04.09 at 11:43 pm

they look so beautiful!

#2 Kristen on 12.04.09 at 2:17 pm

I’ve seen these before but never really thought that I would make them myself, until today. They are gorgeous! and they sound like fun.

You may have saved my Easter dilemma. I’m not a big fan of food coloring anyways. This is much more appealing.

#3 Francis Xavier Holden on 12.04.09 at 8:35 pm

They sure look good peeled and cold on a plate in middle of the table,although they always seemed to taste best when purchased on a cold night from the 7/11around the corner. (As well as 7/11 on nearly every corner in any suburb, there are a raft of 7/11 clones on every other corner in Taiwan – they also sell a limited range of beer and whisky but no wine. Heinekin ~$0.30 aus)

The 7/11 seems to keep them an old rice cooker covered in tea water. They look like they’ve been there for weeks. The warm egg is served takeaway, around $0.20 iirc, in a small thin plastic bag.

You use the plastic bag to rub the shell off the eggs and sort of squeeze the eggs out at the top warm and clean of shell to nibble. The shell stays in the bag to be binned. (Strangely Taiwan in general does not have public rubbish bins. The theory is bins encourage rubbish. No bins make you minimise waste or take it home or ask shop to use their bin)

So anyway as me and Hel were saying Taiwan is an underated tourist destination by westerners. It’s basically a first world country with excellent infrastructure, cheap and magnificent food from everywhere especially Asian (the Taiwanese exist to eat), low cost of living and English as an official second language (all street signs are in english and characters). In most places outside Taipei white folks are a curiosity and the tourist industry is set up to rip off locals. The scams are at worst equal opportunity – at best special deals for white folk.

If you want to you can fly to Kaohsiung (KHH) from Melbourne and return 10 days later for about aus$1,200.

#4 Francis Xavier Holden on 12.04.09 at 8:39 pm

That fare is on Malaysian thru KL and not HK and is next week leaving 16 April. Usually fare is around $1,400 to $1,700 depending. Usually not much difference between Kaohsiung fare and Taipei fare.

It’s really an ideal side trip from HK – 1.5 hour flight

#5 Pamela Faye on 13.04.09 at 7:36 pm

I agree, they are beautiful. And so simple! I do believe I’ve got all the ingredients in the cupboard here in Warakurna (except the star anise). Will class-up the next barbeque nicely.

#6 Wendy on 15.04.09 at 8:08 pm

Ooooh, pretty. Had been led to believe this was very difficult to do. Happy to see otherwise. :)

#7 Dr Sister Outlaw on 18.04.09 at 3:31 pm

Have been having a go this afternoon – the tea/anise/soy mixture sure smells good while they cook, they come out looking just like the picture and they taste amazing! The white is fragrant yet gelid, contrasting mightily with the firm yolk … I defy anyone to stop at one.

#8 Helen on 20.04.09 at 2:13 pm

Oh, I’m glad people are having fun with these!
Erratum: I time in Taiwan in a gap year, not a gap (visions of being stuck in a ravine on one of those nearly vertical craggy mountains.)

#9 Katie on 27.06.09 at 1:03 am

This really makes me wish I liked hard boiled eggs…

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