Unintentionally Amazing Soft Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋)


Date Published: Aug 8th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 8th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: Asian, sides, snack, appetizers, healthy, low cal
Serves: 8 eggs | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 5-10 mins + resting overnight

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The empty bottle of the brand of sweet vinegar I used. Any sweet vinegar should be fine.

I’ve had a bottle of Chinese sweet black vinegar in the back of my pantry for the past 2 years that has gone untouched and collecting dust. I have no idea what I originally bought it for but whatever it was, I only ever used a small amount. Toby says I bought it originally because I couldn’t find regular black vinegar and tried to use this as a substitute and failed – I have no recollection of this 😅🤷🏻‍♀️. I’ve tried to look for recipes to use up this bottle over the years but I can only ever find it used in a very specific Chinese pork knuckle dish. This bottle has become an eye sore and in a desperate attempt to clean out my pantry before we hit the road again, I decided to try adding it to a marinade for tea eggs. I had very low expectations for this – I just wanted to make something somewhat edible so I’m not wasting it. The end result turned out so much better than I could have ever hoped for! It gave the egg a subtle sweetness along with the saltiness. In fact, it was so good that I ended up buying another bottle of sweet black vinegar just so I can keep making these tea eggs, which is now my favourite way to eat them.

Chinese sweet black vinegar isn’t as tangy as regular vinegar. It’s more subtle and has a light sweetness with a star anise/liquorice flavour. When mixed with the rest of the marinade ingredients, it makes a slightly sweeter tea egg that’s lighter on the palate compared to the classic tea egg that’s usually only soy sauce based. Soft boiled eggs are my favourite style of eggs and perfect for this recipe. The yolk remains soft and jammy which allows some of the marinade to penetrate through giving it more flavour. Make sure you set a timer to cook them perfectly. I’ve included cooking times for medium and hardboiled eggs as well if that’s your thing.

What is a tea egg?

If you’re unfamiliar with tea eggs, it’s a classic Chinese side dish commonly made of hardboiled eggs marinated in a soy-sauce based concoction with black tea leaves. The eggs are cracked before marinating and as a result you get a beautiful marbled appearance on the eggs with a savoury umami flavour with a hint of tea. I remember getting a few of these in a baggie from the local 7-11 in Taiwan before hopping on a train and having these as a snack. I’ve never had them soft-boiled until I started playing around with this recipe. It’s a total game changer and I think this will be the only way I’ll be having my tea eggs from now. 😛

Tips for using up leftover marinade:

  • Sauté with garlic, cabbage, splash of shaoxing wine until the cabbage cooks down, then stir in chilli paste like lao gan ma or leftover red chilli oil wonton sauce.
  • Reuse the marinade again! Make sure you reboil the liquid and let it cool before using it again.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Marinade:
    • 1/2 cup Sweet Black Vinegar
    • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
    • 2 Tbsps dark soy sauce
    • 2.5 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
    • 2 Tbsps (or 2 tea bags) extra strong black tea leaves
    • 1 cup water
  • 8 large eggs

Directions:

Simmer the marinade on low for 10 mins

Make the marinade: Mix all the ingredients of the marinade (vinegar, soy sauces, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, tea leaves, water) in a saucepan and heat on MEDIUM until it boils, then turn the heat down to LOW-MED and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

Make the eggs: While the marinade cools, boil a pot of water (use a pot large enough to allow all the eggs to submerge in the boiling water without crowding). Once the water boils, carefully lower the eggs into the water – be careful not to crack them. Start a timer and boil for 5 minutes and 30 seconds for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard boiled eggs.

Dunk them in an ice bath or under cold running water until cooled

Prepare an ice bath for the eggs while they are boiling. Once the timer goes off, immediate transfer the eggs to the ice bath to cool. If you don’t have any ice, run the eggs under cold water until completely cooled.

More cracks = more marbling

Once the eggs are cooled, use the back of a spoon and gently crack the egg shells around the entirety of the egg. You want the egg shells to be cracked and broken without breaking the actual egg. This allows the marinade to get through the shell and create a marbled effect. Be careful not to hit them too hard, especially for soft-boiled eggs.

Once the marinade has fully cooled, transfer the marinade with the ingredients to a container or a large ziplock bag and add in the cracked eggs. Ensure the eggs are submerged in the marinade. Choose a container or a bag big enough to fit all the marinade and eggs. It’s better to use a deeper container than a wider one so the eggs submerge better.

Let the eggs marinate in the fridge overnight, or best for 24 hours (or longer!).

Serve the eggs either cold, room temperature, or slightly warmed. Enjoy!

Summarized Recipe:

Unintentionally Amazing Soft Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋)

Date Published: Aug 8th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 8th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: Asian, sides, snack, appetizers, healthy, low cal
Serves: 8 eggs | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 5-10 mins + resting overnight

Ingredients:

  • Marinade:
    • 1/2 cup Sweet Black Vinegar
    • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
    • 2 Tbsps dark soy sauce
    • 2.5 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
    • 2 Tbsps (or 2 tea bags) extra strong black tea leaves
    • 1 cup water
  • 8 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Make the marinade: Mix all the ingredients of the marinade (vinegar, soy sauces, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, tea leaves, water) in a saucepan and heat on MEDIUM until it boils, then turn the heat down to LOW-MED and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  2. Make the eggs: While the marinade cools, boil a pot of water (use a pot large enough to allow all the eggs to submerge in the boiling water without crowding). Once the water boils, carefully lower the eggs into the water – be careful not to crack them. Start a timer and boil for 5 minutes and 15 seconds for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard boiled eggs.
  3. Prepare an ice bath for the eggs while they are boiling. Once the timer goes off, immediate transfer the eggs to the ice bath to cool. If you don’t have any ice, run the eggs under cold water until completely cooled.
  4. Once the eggs are cooled, use the back of a spoon and gently crack the egg shells around the entirety of the egg. You want the egg shells to be cracked and broken without breaking the actual egg. This allows the marinade to get through the shell and create a marbled effect. Be careful not to hit them too hard to break the eggs inside, especially for soft-boiled eggs.
  5. Once the marinade has fully cooled, transfer the marinade with the ingredients to a container or a large ziplock bag and add in the cracked eggs. Ensure the eggs are submerged in the marinade. Choose a container or a bag big enough to fit all the marinade and eggs. It’s better to use a deeper container than a wider one so the eggs submerge better.
  6. Let the eggs marinate in the fridge overnight, or best for 24 hours (or longer!).
  7. Serve the eggs either cold, room temperature, or slightly warmed. Enjoy!

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