We had a lovely little paperback book, from the seventies, with Chinese country recipes. It was filled with folklore & woodcut images, as well as some pretty amazing recipes. It certainly helped me when ordering dim sum, as I would be able to recognize many of the little dishes that were being served. In it we found a recipe for Tea Eggs that is very odd, but was a favourite for our kids to make and eat. After hard-boiling the eggs, the shell is cracked all over and then let to steep with star anise, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom & black tea. When the eggs are cool, you peel the egg and reveal a wonderful pattern of the shell’s cracks. The seasoning from the spices is complex, but perfect with the egg.
It was always a fun to tuck one of these eggs into a school lunch. Lots of looks of horror from the other kids, quickly followed by a bit of envy.
Anyhow ~ here’s the recipe in a more formal version.
7 or 8 eggs – to fit in one layer in a medium saucepan
3 star anise
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
4 green cardamom pods
3 T loose black tea (could use 3 black tea bags in a pinch)
3 slices of ginger
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Cover with cold water.
Let the eggs cool in the water.
Drain and replace the water with more cold water after about 10 minutes.
Continue to cool.
When the eggs have cooled for about 30 minutes, and are cool enough to handle, drain from the water.
Gently crack the eggs all over, without smashing them. 5 – 6 gentle cracks for each will be lots.
Do not peel.
Cover with tepid water until the eggs are just covered.
Add in the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, black tea, ginger slices, and salt.
Return to a gentle boil.
Cover, reduce heat to very low, and simmer for one hour.
Remove the eggs from the tea & spices.
Store covered in the fridge for up to five days.