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Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs recipe

Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish

One of my favourite dishes when I head back home; it combines hard-boiled eggs with the subtle flavour of anise and the deep brown hues of black tea and soy. Recipe courtesy of Mum.

53 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
  • 2 pods star anise
  • 1 (5cm) piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon tangerine zest

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:3hr ›Extra time:7hr40min › Ready in:11hr

  1. In a large saucepan, combine eggs and 1 teaspoon salt; cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and cool. When cool, tap eggs with the back of a spoon to crack shells (do not remove shells).
  2. In a large saucepan, combine 750ml water, soy sauce, black soy sauce, salt, tea leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick and tangerine zest. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours. Remove from heat, add eggs, and let steep for at least 8 hours.

Chinese New Year

Most of the dishes served during Chinese New Year are symbolic of something positive and hopeful.

Chicken and fish, for example, symbolise happiness and prosperity - especially when served whole.
Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and good fortune because they are China's most plentiful fruit.
Noodles represent longevity: therefore, they should never be cut!
Duck symbolises fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.
Bean curd or tofu, however, is avoided because its white colour suggests death and misfortune.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(36)

Reviews in English (28)

by fides

Please note that the Chinese "dark/black" soy sauce is VERY different than the "light/regular" one. The dark soy has a sweeter flavor, while giving the color to the egg. It's not salty at all. So the "regular" soy sauce is actually the wrong one to use.-13 Apr 2007


I fudged a bit and only used water, soy, Wort. sauce and tea leaves. Make sure the cracks in the eggs break the thin membrane between the shell and the egg otherwise you won't get the marbling.-04 Feb 2003


This is one of those suprising recipes. You read it and think it just can't taste good, but it turns out remarkably well. I ommitted the black soy sauce since I don't know the difference. I let the eggs soak at least overnight in the refrigerator. I peel, slice lengthwise and place yolk side down on my most elegant glass platter. The appearance is of delicate marble eggs. Even kids love the taste. I call them 1000 year old eggs after the traditional Chinese dish...not the same at all, but they look antique!-26 Nov 2002

  • 500 ml water
  • 100 ml soy sauce
  • 20 g black tea
  • 20 g sugar
  • 10 g ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • large saucepan

For the marinade, bring water, soy sauce, tea, remaining sugar, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaf to a boil in the saucepan and let simmer for approx. 10 min.

Chinese Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋)

Chinese tea is good for cleansing our digestive system. Often times, we’d like to have a cup of Chinese tea after a meal. Sometimes, I use Chinese tea for cooking. I got a can of Tieguanyin (鐵觀音茶) from a friend that is perfect to make some tea eggs, my long-time favourite snack. The marbled pattern on the egg white is very appealing to eyes.

Chinese tea eggs, traditionally served during Chinese New Year celebrations, are easy to make. Simply prepare some boiled eggs and steep them in tea marinade. After a few hours, you can enjoy the flavourful and tasty eggs for tea time.

Chinese Tea Eggs (Printable recipe)
By Christine's Recipes
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
Yield: Makes 6

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 liter water
  • 2 tea bags (such as black tea bags)
  • 1½ Tbsp Tieguanyin (鐵觀音茶葉 or any other Chinese tea), or to taste
  • 1/4 dried mandarin peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tsp salt

  1. To prepare boiled eggs: cover the eggs in a pot with water, about 2.5cm / 1 inch above the surface of the eggs. Turn on the stove heat to high and bring it to boil with a lid on. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. (Remark: Don’t use high heat because you don’t want your eggs crack in rigorously boiling water at this stage.) Remove from the heat with lid on. Use the residue heat to cook the egg for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain out the eggs. Immediately soak in cold water until cold to touch. Gently tap the egg shells with the back of a teaspoon and crack the shells. Use a needle to poke several times around each egg in order to help marinade penetrate inside.
  3. While waiting the boiled eggs to cool down, put the remaining ingredients and water in a pot and cook over medium-high heat.
  4. Carefully place the cracked eggs in the pot and bring it to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat with lid on. Let the eggs soak in the tea mixture for about 4 hours, or until the eggs take up enough flavour. You can take out one egg and taste to see if you’re satisfied. Before serving, gently reheat the eggs with the tea mixture.

  • It’s better to soak the dried mandarin peel and remove the inner layer with a knife before cooking with other ingredients (see the above picture shown).
  • The dark soy sauce is to help darken the egg shells. You might adjust the amount according to your liking.
  • You might like to use any tea you like. Beware that every kind of tea has its unique flavour, colour and smell.
  • By soaking eggs in tea mixture, the eggs won’t turn too hard. If the weather is too hot, you might transfer the eggs with tea mixture in fridge with cover. When you need them, simply reheat the eggs with mixture before serving.
  • The soaking time can be adjusted according to your personal preference.
    The eggs take time to soak up the flavours. Thus, by poking the eggs a few holes with a needle can help the marinade get through inside quickly.
  • If you’re satisfied with the taste and saltiness of your eggs, drain them out, lest they will turn too salty. The leftovers can be kept in a container with cover for a few days in fridge.

***If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #christinesrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups cold water, or as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brewed black tea
  • 2 star anise (broken into individual pieces)
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Place the eggs in a saucepan with the water, making sure that there is at least 1/2-inch of water above the eggs. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.

Remove the saucepan from the element and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are cooked. Remove the eggs and run them under cold running water to cool. (Reserve the water in the pan).

Tap the hard-boiled eggs gently with the back of a spoon, to make a series of cracks all over the eggshells, while making sure the shell remains intact. (If the shell does come off, don't worry - it just means that egg will have a darker color than the others).

Bring the water in the pan back to a boil. Add the salt, soy sauce, brewed black tea, star anise pieces, and the cinnamon stick. Add the eggs. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot liquid until ready to serve.

Tea Leaf Eggs Recipe [茶叶蛋]

4 cups (1 liter) water
12 large eggs

Tea Mixture
4 cups (1 liter) water ( I used 5 cups since I simmered the eggs for overnight)
3 heaping tablespoons Chinese puer tea leaf or black tea (I used Tie Guan Yin tea leaf 鐵觀音)
1 cinnamon stick
3 star-anise
6 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Add 4 cups (1 liter) of water to a pot and gently drop in the eggs. Make sure the water covers the eggs. Bring the water to boil over high heat. Boil until the eggs are cooked, about 10 minutes.
Remove the hard-boiled eggs from the boiling water and rinse them with cold running water. Using the back of a teaspoon, gently tap the eggshell to crack the shell. Discard the water in the pot.
To make the Tea Mixture, heat the water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients and return to a boil.
Transfer the eggs to the pot and boil the eggs with the Tea Mixture for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer the eggs for at least 2 hours. (I placed my them in a slow cooker and simmered for overnight.)
Serve the eggs immediately or leave them in the Tea Mixture overnight to further develop the color and flavor. Tea Leaf Eggs are best served the next day.

  • 10 eggs
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 2 Star anise *
  • 10 cm Cinnamon *
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns *
  • 2 bay leaf*
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 500ml Water
  • 80 ml light soy sauce
  • 20ml dark soy sauce
  • 20 g Sugar
  • 5g salt
  1. Place the eggs in the water.
  2. Add a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for another five minutes.
  4. Transfer the eggs into ice water until it is cold.
  5. Place all the ingredients except the egg in a pot. Simmer for ten minutes.
  6. Make some cracks on the shell of all the eggs with a metal spoon.
  7. Simmer the eggs in the flavoring liquid for twenty minutes.
  8. Transfer the eggs and the liquid into another container. Let the eggs steep for another half a day. Serve.

  • 6-8 eggs
  • 4 table spoons of loose black tea leaves
  • 2 table spoons soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons salt
  • 1 tea spoon Chinese five spice powder (adjust according to taste)
  1. Boil eggs for 12 minutes until they are thoroughly cooked. Afterwards set eggs aside in cold water to let them cool down.
  2. Once eggs are cooled, crack the shells of the eggs, but make sure not to let the shell come off the eggs. Make sure to make cracks all around for a prettier cracked egg shell look as a result. This is tricky, what you want are cracks that are deep enough for the taste to get into the eggs, but not to much to the eggs shells won't fall of the egg itself during cooking.
  3. Lay the eggs in a cooking pot and fill water to about one inch or 2.5 cm above eggs. Add more water later on if needed.
  4. Bring to boil the water with black tea leaves, salt, soy sauce and Chinese spices. The latter you can usually find in any grocery store. If not, check out your local Asian supermarket. If you can't find this at your local Asian grocery store.
  5. Cook the tea eggs for two hours (this is really the minimum) with all the ingredients on a low simmer. Keep lid on, this will avoid the liquid mixture from evaporating.
  6. Afterwards let the pot cool down and let the boiled tea eggs sit overnight for about 8 hours) in the fridge to fully absorb the flavors.
  7. The next day, you have to boil, and cook at a low boil for an additional 1-2 hours.

Because it takes a long time to cook those tea leaf eggs you might want to make more at once. Tea boiled eggs can be served deliciously hot or cold. You can store tea leaf eggs in the fridge for a few days. Keep them in the liquor with shells on.

Notes on Chinese Tea Eggs

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one standard recipe so different types of tea and spices are used to make the aromatic liquid.

The version I am sharing is based on home made five spice combination.

The most common tea types are black tea and Onlong tea such as Tieguanyin.

Also, it’s worth noting that the loose tea leaves are always preferred but if you don’t have them handy, tea bags are also perfectly acceptable.

While there are many regional variations, all the recipes pretty much follow this same flow:

Hard boiled Eggs -> Make aromatic liquid -> Crack the eggs -> Cook the egg in the aromatic liquid -> Soak overnight

Some recipes might ask you to cook the eggs in the aromatic liquid for hours and serve hot. While that’s how the street food vendors normally keep their eggs warm on the street, the long boiling actually makes the eggs hard and dry. I personally prefer to just soak my eggs in the liquid overnight to get more flavor in the eggs.

If you are not too familiar with all the five dry spices used in this recipe, use the following image as a reference.

On the other hand, if you’ve been working with herbs and spices, I encourage you to try exploring different combinations of spices to create your own aromatic liquid. A good start point will be here.

Lastly, if you plan to make tea eggs regularly, you can store the aromatic liquid in a fridge (up to 3 days) or in the freezer (up to 3 months) and re-use in the future.

The catch is you have to constantly remove the old spices and replace with fresh ones. Also add more salt or soy sauce once in a while to maintain the saltiness.

What to serve with tea eggs

First things first: these delicious marbled tea eggs are pretty dang wonderful on their own. You can also really let the infused eggs be the star of the show by eating them with a simple bowl of plain white rice. Learn how to cook perfect Japanese rice on the stovetop and in a rice cooker here.

Or add them as a savory topping for congee… delish!

But if you’re making a full meal out of it, pair these savory marble eggs with these other delicious and easy Chinese recipes:

Did you like this Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

Top the soy sauce eggs on

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