My dear friend Kat, whom I love to feed because she, like me, cultivates an ongoing love affair with the edible stuff of life (remember chicken bread?!?), spent much of our senior year of college feeding me and, in great part, I attribute my proclivity for experimental cooking to her. One of my favorites back at the dorm were her tea eggs, hard cooked eggs steeped for many hours (there really is no such thing as too long) in a salty-pungent concoction of black tea, star anise, soy sauce, and just a spoonful of sugar (cue the Mary Poppins).
These are as addictive as potato chips, but arguably more healthful, and I love the way the cracks in the shell absorb the tea, creating an intricate spiderweb design (as you can see). Beautiful to behold - even more so to devour!
Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tablespoons black tea or 2 tea bags (I used Black Chai)
1 teaspoon honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
In a medium-size saucepan, place the eggs and cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, leaving the water in the pot, and allow to cool under running cold water. Using the back of a teaspoon, gently tap the eggshell to create a network of cracks all over, being careful to leave the shell intact.
Return the eggs to the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Return to a boil and turn the heat back to low. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes, then cover and let the eggs steep for a few hours or overnight. The longer, the better!
Drain the eggs from the tea, peel, and enjoy!