Chinese Tea Eggs

A few months ago, our shiatsu therapist Suzy made some Chinese tea eggs for us to try.  We immediately fell in love with this savory dish and wanted to share the recipe with you.

Tea eggs are a traditional snack in many parts of China.  In cities like Shanghai or Beijing, you can find delicious tea eggs being served up by street vendors.  It’s also common for parents to boil some up as a nourishing after school snack.  Whenever Wei makes tea eggs, the unique and wonderful aroma of the tea leaves and spices simmering on the stove top transports her back to her childhood in Shanghai.

Enjoy these eggs anytime of day!  Plus, if you’re looking for a unique appetizer, this dish might be your answer.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

The ingredients for our marbled tea egg recipe are very simple: hard boiled eggs, tea leaves, soy sauce or tamari, star anise, salt, and a touch of sugar. The intricate marbled appearance is created by gently cracking the shell of hard boiled eggs and simmering the eggs in a soy sauce, tea, and spice mixture. This aromatic mixture seeps through the cracked shells, infusing them with the subtle flavor of anise and the deep brown hues of black tea and soy.

A bit more about the ingredients and recipe:  Star anise is considered one of the 5 magical Chinese spices.  The others are fennel, cinnamon, clove, and Sichuan peppercorn (which is pungent as opposed to spicy). The 5 spices are frequently used in noodles, soups, and all types of savory dishes.

While it might look like there’s a lot of salt in the recipe, don’t worry – very little is actually absorbed by the eggs.  The same is true of the small amount of sugar in the recipe.  Its role is to help smooth out the salt’s edge.  And, there’s no need to waste the leftover broth.  It makes a lovely marinade for tofu or chicken.

As for the tea – Assam is a great option.  We also recommend adding a little dark pu’er tea for added health benefits, flavor, and color.

Recipe for Chinese Tea Eggs


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Organic Soy Sauce, Tamari, or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 3 full pods of Star Anise
  • 2 tablespoons Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Organic Sugar
  • 4 cup Water, plus more for initially cooking eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Black Tea (our Assam tea works very well!)
  • 1 tablespoon of Dark Pu’er Tea


  1. Place the eggs in a medium sized pot and cover with COLD water (make sure the eggs are snug, so they won’t rock around when the water boils and crack). Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggs and immediately rinse by running under cold water, until the shell is no longer warm.
  3. Next, use a metal spoon to gently crack the shell of each egg.  A little pressure goes a long way – make lots of tiny cracks but avoid breaking into the egg. The more cracks in the shell, the more intricate the design will be.
  4. Pour the 4 cups of cold water into the same pot you used before.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.   Add the cracked eggs, salt, soy sauce, sugar, star anise, and tea leaves.  Simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
  5. Enjoy hot or cold! The eggs can be stored in their shells in the fridge and peeled as you want to eat them. Or peel them all at once for a party or a snack plate!

OPTIONAL: You can let the eggs stay in the broth for 8-12 hours for even more flavor and coloration.

Recipe by Wei Bertram, Photos by Sophie Slater