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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chinese Marbled Tea Egg Recipe

Chinese Tea Egg Recipe

I know it’s a bit early to start thinking about Chinese New Year, but I wanted to start a week ahead and post several recipes that would make perfect dishes for the upcoming Chinese New Year, such as this Chinese Marbled Tea Egg recipe.

Isn’t the shell of the Tea Egg absolutely gorgeous? The best part (other than eating) is to peel back the egg shell to see what kind of marbled design you end up with!

We generally eat these at room temperature or just slightly warm. In Northern China, Chinese Tea Eggs symbolize golden nuggets for the Chinese New Year feast – so if you’re lookin’ for a little more prosperity this coming year of the Ox update: it’s the Year of the Tiger this year! my Mama says you’d better make this recipe!

My friend Diana, author of Appetite For China recently was vacationing here in Tampa, Florida and I got to meet her! (yeah – we got a pic together too! at the end of the post.) She includes dried orange peel in her recipe and I’m sure she’ll be enjoying Chinese Tea Eggs with her parents in China.

Chinese Tea Egg Recipe

For Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs, you’ll want to hard boil eggs first, and after they cool off, use a back of a teaspoon to gently crack the eggshell all over. Keep the eggshell intact, but the more you crack, the more intricate the design of the marble will be. Make those crack pretty deep, as that is how the tea/soy mixture will seep into the egg.

Chinese Tea EggChinese Tea Egg

I was gentle at first, but after seeing that the eggshell stayed intact, I cracked the next egg a bit harder…and what a difference that made!

Chinese Tea Egg Recipe


Chinese Marbled Tea Egg Recipe

Servings: 6 eggs Prep Time: Cook Time:


6 eggs
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tablespoons black tea (or 2 tea bags)
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn (optional)
2 strips dried tangerine or mandarin orange peel (optional)


Gently place the eggs in a medium pot and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1-inch. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs (leaving the water in the pot) and let cool under running cool water. Using the back of the teaspoon, gently tap the eggshell to crack the shell all over. The more you tap, the more intricate the design. Do this with a delicate hand to keep the shell intact. To the same pot with the boiling water, return the eggs and add in the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes, cover with lid and let eggs steep for a few hours to overnight. The longer you steep, the more flavorful and deeply marbled the tea eggs will be. In the photos above, I steeped for 5 hours. Mom likes to steep overnight.

And as I promised, here is the lovely Diana!


Chinese New Year book for kids

If you want to teach your kids about Chinese New Year, this book called  Dragon Dance is great!

71 Responses to “Chinese Marbled Tea Egg Recipe”

  1. These are just stunning! I’m excited to try these with some quail eggs. Thanks for the recipe & technique!
    You’re sooooo lucky to have met Diana! Very cute picture too from your new toy!

  2. Kristen J — 1/18/09 @ 12:50 am

    Oh my gosh, these chinese tea eggs are the most amazing things ever!

  3. Janet — 1/18/09 @ 12:55 am

    Those Chinese Tea Eggs are gorgeous! Hey, I took a 3 month exercise/ weight loss challenge with my moms exercise group, “Stroller Strides”- I will be using many of your recipes the next 3 months! I may tweak some a bit to fit into the dietary guidelines, but yours were the ones that looked most divine and best to tweak (if even necessary on some)! Thanks for having such an awesome blog!!

  4. Jaden, these tea eggs are gorgeous! You should do a photo study just on the shell patterns – so beautiful!!

  5. Christine — 1/18/09 @ 2:39 am

    It’s a good time to start thinking about what to cook for Chinese New Year. We’ve got only a week left for preparation and there’re so many things to buy and get prepared.

    Your Chinese Tea Eggs look gorgeous. Love them very much. They would be on my Chinese New Year’s menu for welcoming my guests.

  6. pigpigscorner — 1/18/09 @ 7:02 am

    wow they look amazing! Love the marbling effect. Didn’t know it’s done this way. Thanks!

  7. this is very neat, i think this will make a good Gardenfork show. be good for kids, easy to do and gets them in the kitchen eating healthy food.

  8. Marija — 1/18/09 @ 10:53 am

    They are real peace of art!

  9. finsbigfan — 1/18/09 @ 11:18 am

    Can’t wait to try these. What a beautiful presentation they make.

  10. Deb — 1/18/09 @ 11:33 am

    JH: These are gorgeous! But you know me I always have questions… I assume you eat the eggs after admiring them. Do they pick up much flavor from the steeping? Do you traditionally serve them any particular way, ie with further seasonings or condiments available?

    They are flavorful! Usually, I eat the eggs as a snack. Even 1 egg is very fulfilling. You can dip in some hot chili sauce if you like – or my favorite a little more sprinkle of soy or Maggi sauce. ~jaden

  11. Asianmommy — 1/18/09 @ 4:08 pm

    I love tea eggs–so yummy!
    Hey, we have the Dragon Dance book, too! My friend gave it to us–her aunt was the illustrator. Pretty cool, huh?

  12. RecipeGirl — 1/18/09 @ 7:27 pm

    So pretty! I love how cool they look. At Halloween this last year, I made spiderweb eggs with blueberries used as the staining agent. Basically the same thing but with gray spiderwebby looking lines. The kiddo loved having them in his lunch.

  13. Wow – I’ve seen these eggs before but never tried them. Still, I don’t remember them looking this beautiful and I’m sure mine wouldn’t turn out the same!

    Perhaps something to try at Easter, though.

  14. Carolyn Jung — 1/18/09 @ 8:57 pm

    It’s like a more elegant version of an Easter egg. I have always loved tea eggs. They are like little jewels. And as with cupcakes, you don’t have to share. ;)

  15. MsGourmet — 1/18/09 @ 10:59 pm

    too beautiful to eat!

  16. Lynn — 1/18/09 @ 11:13 pm

    That is so cool! My kids will be excited to help me make these.

  17. Giff — 1/18/09 @ 11:31 pm

    beautiful – thank you for sharing the spice proportions and process

  18. Victoria — 1/18/09 @ 11:57 pm

    Ooh, neat! I’ve always wanted to know how to make these, but I was too lazy or forgetful to search for a recipe :P Now I can try this out, instead of hitting up a local cafe/shop that sells them for $.75 a egg.

  19. MODman — 1/19/09 @ 12:25 am

    We have some dinner guests coming over this coming Sunday… You just gave me the recipe that I needed for canapé’s. Absolutely exquisite.

  20. Diana — 1/19/09 @ 7:20 am

    Jaden you look so gorgeous, even without the flash. I’ve always wanted to make marbled tea eggs. Tonight I watched Mike gather ostrich eggs on Dirty Jobs and decided to add them to my list of things to cook that I haven’t yet. Now I’m thinking they’d be amazing looking cooked this way!

  21. Jude — 1/19/09 @ 11:36 am

    I love these things, both making and eating them. So flavorful but subtle.

  22. Vanille — 1/19/09 @ 5:09 pm

    I discovered these eggs with a friend from Taiwan and I liked it a lot !
    Great shot of these chinese tea eggs !

  23. Chris Rudram — 1/19/09 @ 9:57 pm

    Made these yesterday using Vanilla Infused Tea (I’m a sucker for anything made with tea)… turned out excellently, really tasty and a more complex flavour than your normal 3 minute egg.

  24. Dawn in CA — 1/20/09 @ 3:37 pm

    Jaden, those eggs are just beautiful. I used to live near Clement Street in San Francisco (little China town), and have always wanted to try these. Have you ever made them with quail eggs? I am thinking they would be lovely for an appetizer. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything in miniature. ;)

  25. Passionate Eater — 1/21/09 @ 3:47 am

    I have never made these tea eggs until the outsides get as dark as yours. I will have to try your recipe next time! Also, thanks so much for always sharing amazing Chinese recipes with the blogging world. I agree with Diana that you look incredible.

  26. Chez Us — 1/21/09 @ 6:08 pm

    These are beautiful, Jaden. What a fun project this would be to do with the MEM, they would love it for Chinese New Year! The book is a great little read for them, too! Thanks!

  27. BK Shopper — 1/22/09 @ 2:39 am

    These egg shells look amazing…

  28. Jeannie — 1/22/09 @ 1:36 pm

    Hi Jayden…I just found your site while looking for Chinese New Year info. And, now, I think I’ll have a dinner on Sunday with this menu! Check out your work on our exotic plants blog…Jeannie

  29. Kristin — 1/22/09 @ 1:53 pm

    beautiful! I love Chinese New Year, mostly for the food. Is that wrong? I can’t wait!

  30. Jessica T — 1/22/09 @ 1:58 pm

    Thanks! I was racking my brain over what to make this year for the family; my grandma used to make these, along with the best seafood jook ever. I think I’ll drop the orange peel and let them sit overnight, just like grandma did. Thanks for the recipe!

  31. Bren — 1/22/09 @ 2:36 pm

    lovely egg! looks like a Fabergé mini! hope ur well, as we haven’t spoken in ages. I’m sorry we never connected before you left to DR, but I know you had a blast!

  32. Lovely eggs! I will try to make these tomorrow. We never have them here in Indonesia. Now I am trying to think why not?

  33. Deborah Dowd — 1/24/09 @ 9:42 pm

    I made these once, and they were as beautiful and impressive as they were delicious. You have reminded me of a great dish that I need to reprise!

  34. edj — 1/25/09 @ 10:07 am

    I have made tea eggs lots of times, but my recipe was different–no sugar or orange peel. I’m excited to try this variation. And your eggs are soo beautiful! Mine are never quite that lovely.

  35. SteamyKitchen — 1/25/09 @ 10:20 am

    EDJ- The longer the soak time the better! How long does your recipe say to simmer or soak for?

  36. Roossy Tirta — 1/30/09 @ 2:28 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I have tried it but my eggs were not as beautiful as yours.

  37. Kevin — 1/30/09 @ 9:23 am

    Those marbled eggs look really good!

  38. I made this on my web video show, Gardenfork.tv , easy to make, good for kids to make and eat.

    I’m not nearly as exciting as Jaden, but if you’d consider checking out the episode:

    Steamy Kitchen on Gardenfork.tv

    thx, eric.

  39. Dustin — 3/23/09 @ 12:45 pm

    I featured this recipe on my blog. Good stuff!

  40. These marbled eggs look fantastic!

  41. Aqeel — 4/23/09 @ 11:02 am

    Amazing idea. Loved it.

  42. Debbie — 5/15/09 @ 1:53 pm

    I’m a subscriber to your newsy-letter…..BUT…I also saw your Tea Eggs in my weekly best-ever computer tips newsletter…Cloudeight InfoAve’s …..Wow..my 2 fav newsletter collided!
    chuckling here.

  43. Shorel — 7/9/09 @ 10:25 am

    Been awhile. I’ve been taking a little sabbatical from blogs. Aye, love these tea eggs. I often will eat them for breakfast when traveling. When going by train, I can sometimes poke my head out the window when the train stops at a station and buy some from the ayi’s selling them. Usually a couple for 1 kuai.

    Good to visit you again. “Man zou!”

  44. Johanna Rice — 7/13/09 @ 7:15 pm

    Yours was the only recipe I could find for “Lucky Eggs” as described in Amy Tan’s book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I plan to try these tomorrow. Thanks.

  45. Theresa — 7/20/09 @ 10:46 am

    I tried these eggs and I really made a lot of cracks in the shell but I was disappointed because the cracks didn’t go through the inner film. The shell was beautifuly collored but the eggs themselves just had a couple of splotches without any of the beautiful filigre. What did I do wrong? Please help and thanks in advance.

    Hmm…usually it’s because the cracks weren’t deep enough. But it could be that the type of egg you buy may have a thicker film? Next time, try soaking overnight.


  46. Olivia — 4/7/10 @ 6:13 pm

    We made these for Chinese New Year (I know – I waited a long time to mention it!) and they were great! But what was really good also was using the broth, that the eggs soaked in, in place of soy sauce for fried rice! Oh my goodness, it was soooo goood! I loved the spice in the background from the anise and black tea… it just gave the fried rice a special kick and everyone loved it!

  47. Selera Malaysia — 4/18/10 @ 2:44 pm

    a great and brilliant recipe…best to eat with Congee…

  48. Emma Larkins — 1/27/11 @ 5:45 pm

    I don’t think that I’ll be able to wait until Chinese New Year’s before making these! Also, I love the idea of using the broth as a sauce. I will have to get some star anise first, though…

  49. Dee — 12/16/11 @ 11:28 am

    I love these eggs! Can anyone tell me how long I can store them in the frig?

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