‘Tis the Season for Tea Eggs
For all that I love about my hometown’s culture and history, I have always been slightly underwhelmed by our region’s lack of multicultural cuisine (besides that of continental Europe, of course). Because of this, I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to try recreating classic dishes from cultures that haven’t influenced our corner of the world quite as strongly as some. One such dish, the Chinese Tea Egg, has since become a sort of Christmas-time tradition for me, even though the ingredients are readily available year round, and true tea eggs from China are likely served by street vendors every night of the year. However, the blend of warming tea and spices that subtly sink into the eggs speak strongly to me of winter cooking, and for the past few years, that just happens to be when I feel drawn to making my annual batch of tea eggs. And, when paired with freshly toasted sesame seeds, these eggs make a stunning side dish for any Christmas dinner!
Chinese Tea Eggs with Toasted Sesame Seeds
- 6 large eggs
- 2 Tablespoons of black tea leaves (roughly 4 bags of tea)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
- Sesame Seeds (white or black)
- Place eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and allow to simmer for 12 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and remove the eggs from the pot. Using a spoon, carefully crack the shell of each egg to produce a veined, spiderweb of cracks across the eggs.
- Stir the tea, salt, and five spice into the cooking water and return the cracked eggs to the pot. Cover the pot and let the eggs simmer for 1 hour.
- After simmering for an hour, remove the pot from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Peel one egg to check the color of the eggs. If they are dark enough for you, remove all eggs from the water; if the lines on the egg are quite light, allow the eggs to sit in the liquid for additional time.
- When your eggs have finished soaking and you are ready to serve, quickly toast the sesame seeds in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1-3 minutes. This will allow the seeds to release their true, nutty flavor and aroma, which adds an extra dimension of flavor to your tea eggs.
- Enjoy your tea eggs whole or quartered with a sprinkling of toasted sesame!