Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tea Eggs - a Great Picnic Food

Today  members of my Hudson Valley Etsy Team gathered for a picnic at the Beacon Waterfront.  We planned a no fuss event where each person could bring their own plates, beverages, etc. and a dish to share.  It made it easy for everyone, including those folks who weren't sure until the last minute.

Some people had posted what they planned to bring - there was a nice array of salads and a couple of desserts.  I decided to bring tea eggs, for their protein and their drama.

This is a  recipe I found 40 years ago in a Time Life cookbook: Chinese Cooking.  I've been making it ever since.  The first time I made them and put them on a buffet table I noticed no one was taking any.  I'd put them in a crystal bowl and when I asked a guest if they'd tried them they said they didn't realize they were to eat.  They thought they were marble - a decoration.

When my husband I  backpacked  we routinely made these for our trips.  They carry so much flavor and are easy; no shells to clean up and pack out, no need to carry salt and pepper, and good nourishment.

So here's how to make them in case you want to add them to your repertoire: the basic recipe is small - I usually double or even quadruple it.

6 eggs
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Whole star anise or 8 sections
2 tsp. black tea (2 tea bags)

Hard boil the eggs in water.   Drain.  Let cool.  When they can be handled, tap them all over with the back of a spoon till shells are cracked.  Return gently to a saucepan and then add 2 cups of cold water and the salt, soy sauce, star anise, and tea.  Make sure the eggs are covered - so if you need a little more water, that's ok.   Cover the pan and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.  Check periodically and add more water to cover them if  needed.  Turn off the heat and leave the eggs in the liquid at room temperature for at least 8 hours.  You can then refrigerate them if you're not going to use them for another day or so.

Just before serving remove the shells carefully.  You can serve them whole or cut in halves or quarters.


  1. They are beautiful! I bet they caused a lot of comment at the picnic! I will try to make some.

  2. They are beautiful! I bet they caused a lot of comment at the picnic! I'll try making some!

  3. These are the best! Glad you posted the recipe...