A friend of mine wrote an article that asked people what the last meal they’d want to have before they die was. The subject sounds heavy but it got me thinking……...what would my wish list be, the last thing I want to eat, before I go to heaven or hell or XXXX?
The famous Taiwanese beef noodle soup? Nope……I’d hope by the time I needed to make my wish list, I’d be too old to have any teeth to chew on anything. So, out of practicality, noodles with beef chunks wouldn’t work.
Taiwanese fried popcorn chicken? If you’ve never had it, it’s hard to describe how good it is using only words, and once you’ve taken a bite, you’ll know this chicken should be filed under serious eats.
So fried chicken sounds great. But, something is still missing here…………
I want something that can make me smile, supply the nexus of savory and sweet, and afford me the Ah-ha moment in which I can tell myself I have made a great final decision and I’ve chosen the right way to reward myself one last time.
……So actually, it is kind of a big deal now that I think about it.
Oh – I should tell you what I decided: eggs.
Eggs? But what kind of eggs? Fried? Scrambled? Baked? Water boiled? Why eggs?
The funny thing is that I didn’t even used to like eggs – especially hard boiled eggs – until one day I lost the battle over a pink dressed barbie that my grandma used as a bait to get me on the hook.
My grandma ‘s tea eggs had funny fissures all over and looked kind of strange – like mini dinosaur eggs! I decided to take a bite, and such was the unexpected beginning of a love affair……
Tea eggs – not the plain boring eggs
The moment you arrive in Taiwan, according to my husband, you can smell the mixture of soy sauce, star anise, and cinnamon cloves, in the air. Now, I don’t know if he’s exaggerating, but that combination of sweet and savory smell surely is not difficult to find in back street corners behind high rises and busy boulevards, not to mention in 7-Elevens, and even in the airport arrivals hall.
Tea eggs are probably the most common street food that people enjoy in Taiwan. You can see school kids rushing to street vendors or convenience stores after a long school day for those awesome savory and sweet bites.
If you are not allergic to eggs, personally I think tea eggs are a much better snack than chips, cookies, or sweets.
To make the most authentic Chinese tea eggs, you’ll need soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon stick, orange peel, and a bit of Sichuan peppercorn. Personally, I rarely follow the tradition, and have accidentally stumbled upon a bare-minimal way to make equally yummy tea eggs.
Running out of time?
If you are running out of time to run to grocery store before Easter this year, try it with the following bare minimum ingredients – Eggs, Black tea, Tamari Soy Sauce (or dark soy sauce), black peppercorns, cinnamon powder, and salt.
That’s it. That’s all you need!
See instructions below on how to make the marbled Chinese tea eggs.
And when you are done:
Please share your FAVORITE eggs you’ve ever had in the comment section.
- 6 Eggs
- 2 tablespoons loose Black Tea (or 2 bags of black tea)
- 1 small Cinnamon Stick (or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Tamari (or dark soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Szechuan Peppercorns (or cracked black peppercorns)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Star Anise (optional, if you can’t find it)
- ½ teaspoon dried Orange Peel (spice, optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, if you really like a little bit of sweetness in your eggs!)
- Place eggs in a pot that allows room for all the eggs and at least ½ inch of water over the top of them. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Rinse the eggs with cold water. 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. Once they’re cracked, set the eggs aside.
Tip #1: cracking the eggs before they are cold may lead to the shell coming off.
Tip #2: Make sure the cracks in the eggs break the thin membrane between the shell and the egg otherwise you won’t get the marbling.
- Return the eggs to the pot and refill with fresh water (approx. 2 ½ cups). Add all the remaining ingredients to the saucepan of water. Bring to a low boil then lower the heat to a low simmer.
- Simmer the mixture for 40 minutes, watching to ensure the water level continues to cover the eggs. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to soak in the tea mixture another 2-3 hours.
Tip#3: To deepen the coloration and for a stronger flavor, remove the tea bags and steep the eggs overnight after you finish simmering.