Lunar New Year is upon us, and my personal favorite part of this holiday is the food. There are so many unique and extravagant dishes made for Lunar New Year. A popular appetizer for New Years is the tea egg (茶叶蛋 Cháyè dàn). Almost all Cornell students have stumbled into Okenshields during lunch, when they serve tea eggs. As most students probably enjoy munching down on those brown, savory eggs, I am here to share a family tea egg recipe so you can relish the taste of tea eggs at your own leisure.
Tea eggs are pretty simple to prepare. As the name suggests, you’ll want eggs and some tea, preferably black or red. You’ll also need soy sauce as well as a few Asian spices. The specific spices involved with tea eggs are Szechuan peppercorn (花椒 Huājiāo) and star anise (八角 Bājiǎo), though feel free to substitute that with the pre-blended Chinese Five Spice, which contains the peppercorn and star anise as components. I personally buy these ingredients from Wegman’s spice rack. Making tea eggs is a two part process: first, cooking the eggs, and second, simmering them in the tea braising liquid.
-one dozen eggs
-two bags of red or black tea
-1/2 cup of soy sauce
-2 teaspoons of salt
-2 teaspoons of Chinese Five Spice OR 8 pieces of star anise and a teaspoon of Szechuan peppercorn
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan filled with cold water, and boil the water over high heat.
2. Once the water reaches a rapid boil, turn off the heat and cover the lid for about 10 to 12 minutes
3. Spin the eggs on the counter to see if they are fully boiled: if they stop spinning, they need to be cooked a bit longer
4. In a pot, add a quart of water. Add soy sauce, tea bags, salt and the spices. Stir evenly on medium heat
5. Lightly crack the shell of the eggs without actually peeling them, and place them into the braising liquid
6. Let it cook for at least 6 hours and you’ll have a batch of fresh tea eggs
Tip: For a fuller, more developed tea egg flavor let the eggs cook on low heat for a whole day.