While I'm in this Chinese New Year food mode, I thought I'd make some marbled tea eggs to send home with my parents. Actually, I was in a seafood and poultry shop the other day and was drawn to buying some duck eggs, why, I don't know. I was trying to think of a use for them when the idea of tea eggs floated through my head. When I was in living in Taipei, right out of college, cheap eats were on the menu every night. Back then, street food stalls were in every small neighborhood in the city. Most only came out in the early evening for dinner or late night snacking. Beef noodle soup on an old rickety stool, under a bare lightbulb, on the side of the street, salt and pepper fried squid in a little paper bag, grilled chicken butts on sticks were some of my favorites. Sadly, the last time I was back in Taipei, the streets had been largely void of these carts. The only 'street' food I got was going to a large warehouse type set-up where it was much more food court than the cool road side cart. Once that type of organization took place, something got lost. Along the cheap eats and easily portable food front, were the tea eggs found soaking in dark broth, in electric rice cookers, in many a store front on the street, even the corner 7-11. Sometimes you'd see a stuff shop, as in just a bunch of random stuff, plastic tubs, umbrellas, knick knack toys, and even they would have tea eggs for sale. The rice cooker was used to keep the eggs perfectly warm I suppose, but I wasn't going to take a chance on that. I mean, I already spent three months acclimating my stomach to everything else I was willing to eat, I was okay to pass on the day(s) long, luke warm, street side, tea egg. If I were a huge boiled egg fan, I would have imbibed, but I'm not. I'm sure they were great though. Anyhow, I think my parents like them, so mine will be going to good homes.
Tea eggs are normally made with chicken eggs. I'm using duck eggs and am adding a couple of chicken eggs to compare.
4 cups water
¼ cup cooking rice wine
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp regular soy sauce
3 tbsp Chinese green tea leaves (I used 3 Jasmine tea bags)
1 2" piece of dried orange peel, or 4" piece fresh orange peel
1 cassia cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1 tbsp sugar
6 duck eggs, 2 chicken eggs (or just use 6-8 chicken eggs)
Combine all of the braising broth ingredients into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs. Place them in a pot with enough cold water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat off, cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 6 minutes. Pour out the hot water and cover the eggs with cool water until they are cold enough to handle.
Crack the shells of the eggs using a small rolling pin or back of a spoon. This gives the eggs the marbling effect and allows the flavor of the broth to penetrate the egg.
Once the broth has simmered for 30 minutes, add the eggs and simmer for another 2 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover and let cool to room temp, letting them steep for several hours.
To store the eggs, place them into a container and cover with the broth and refrigerate. Don't peel the eggs until you are going to eat them. Peel and eat, or peel, slice into wedges and drizzle a little of the broth over top.