After seeing a post on TasteSpotting, I decided on a whim to make Chinese tea eggs for our family lunch on Easter Sunday. Though appropriate for an everyday snack, these tea eggs are novel enough (in New Zealand!), and decorative enough, to be perfect for this eggy Anglo holiday.* (Their spiderweb design would also make them great for Halloween, but one season at a time.)
The many recipes I saw online agreed largely on the spices I should use, but had a large variation in cooking times. These ranged from pre-boiling the eggs for 2 minutes and simmering for 20, to pre-boiling for 20 and simmering for several hours. So, instead of anxiously fretting about which recipe was 'right', I figured that it probably did not matter too much how long I cooked them for.
The method for making tea eggs is to hard boil eggs, crack the shell with the back of a teaspoon, return to simmer with black tea, star anise, cinnamon, szechuan peppercorns, soy sauce, tangerine or mandarin zest, and a bit of sugar, and leave to steep overnight to develop dark, intricate patterns over the hard boiled eggs.
As it was getting towards bed time on Saturday night already, I made a start.
Chinese Tea Eggs
4 - 6 eggs (I started making four, before realizing I had miscounted potential lunch attendees and hastily boiling up another - which in the end was not required.)
2 star anise pods
2 T black tea (I used ginger infused tea)
2 T gluten-free tamari (or, if you can, 1T soy sauce and 1T dark soy sauce, which will probably give a deeper flavour)
1 T black peppercorns (or szechuan peppercorns if you have them)
1 t brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon (or a whole piece of cinnamon bark if you have one)
tangerine or mandarin zest (which I didn't have, so I left out)
Place eggs in a small to medium pot, and cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for up to ten minutes.
Retaining boiling water, remove eggs and rinse under cold water, until cool enough to handle. Don't skip this step, especially if you're about to hand the eggs over to young children to crack!
With the back of a teaspoon, crack the shells of the eggs, without removing the shell - this will create your spiderweb patterns on the eggs.
Return the eggs to the water, with the other ingredients, and simmer for about an hour. Watch to make sure your pot doesn't boil dry, though - add more water if necessary.
Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep overnight, or for as many hours as you can allow.
Eat cold by itself or with your condiment of choice. These have a very mild, savoury flavour.
We served the tea eggs as part of a delicious lunch spread that my mum, sister, and I pulled together with little to no planning, including inventing a recipe for corn and oat patties - yum!
I didn't actually write down the recipe - we were really just throwing stuff in until it felt right. They contained: a (~400g) can of creamed corn; 2 eggs; about a teaspoon of baking powder; about a quarter cup of corn meal, and probably about one and a half cups of oat flour - I ground two cups of rolled oats, then used not quite all of that. Also pepper and salt. The 'batter' was quite wet and soft, and we spooned it into the frypan, but once fried the bottom was crispy and held together.
I love taking picture's with the back yard in the background. Oh the childhood memories!
All in all, a great Easter lunch!
* with the exception of a pack of lindt peanut butter eggs a month or so before Easter, we haven't bought any Easter eggs this year. This is only because after that first packet, we couldn't find any more of those delicious delicious peanut butter eggs.