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Jan 6, 2021

Chinese Tea Eggs (Marbled Tea Eggs)

Marbled Chinese tea eggs are a fun snack to make and serve. 

Chinese Tea Eggs


According to my (way too many) Chinese food cookbooks (the list of cookbooks is after the recipe), in China and Taiwan, marbled tea eggs are sold in tea houses and food stalls. Evidently, they also can be found everywhere in Taiwan, both in convenience stores and roadside stands. In the U.S., you can sometimes find them in dim sum restaurants and Chinese bakeries. 

Marbled tea eggs begin with hard boiled eggs. You crack the eggs gently with the back of a metal spoon and then steep them in a fragrant mixture of soy sauce, tea, cinnamon, star anise, and Chinese five spice powder so the color seeps through the shells. 

Chinese Tea Eggs steeping liquid

The aroma and faint flavor of the tea, soy sauce, and spices turn an ordinary snack into an extraordinary one. Hard boiled eggs, already one of my favorite treats, rise to a whole new level of deliciousness. 

The typical ingredients for steeping the eggs include black tea, soy sauce, and spices. Standard recipes call for using already hard boiled eggs, cracking the shells, and simmering the eggs in the tea and soy sauce mixture for one to two hours. 

The traditional method will result in a greenish tinge to the yolk, which is considered acceptable and traditional. It is thought that the braise moisturizes the yolks and keeps them from getting chalky. 

As someone who had pursued the perfect hard boiled egg with the totally yellow yolk, my quest was to avoid the greenish yolks while still developing a nice pattern on the egg. 

Chinese Tea Eggs (Marbled Eggs) peeled

I first experimented with this when making Halloween Deviled Tea Eggs, where I steeped the already hard cooked eggs in the cold refrigerator for 24 hours. I had to use dark soy sauce, which you can normally only find in an Asian supermarket. 

It's very dark (and delicious) and a little bit goes a long way. It definitely worked, but the pattern on the eggs was pretty faint, plus there is the issue with the hard to find dark soy sauce. 

This time, I experimented with partially cooking the eggs to medium boil, cracking the shells, and then simmering them in the hot tea mixture for a few minutes more. After that, I let them sit in the pan until the liquid cooled, which took another hour. 

After that, I placed them in the refrigerator overnight. 

The resulting yolks had just a slight green tinge on the edge and a much darker pattern on the egg whites. While I still need to work on my eggshell cracking skills to get a more "web-like" pattern, I am very happy with the results. 

Chinese Tea Egg yolks

To make these eggs, steam them for about six minutes. Steaming eggs is my new favorite way of making easy peel hard boiled eggs. 

In the meantime, combine the soy sauce, tea, and spices in a sauce pan with water, and bring the mixutre to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce it to a simmer. 

Once your eggs are steamed, plunge them into a bowl of ice water and let them cool. Take the back of a metal spoon, and gently crack the eggs all around. Add the cracked eggs to the simmering tea mixture and simmer them for another 8 minutes with the cover on the pan. 

This is the hard part if you are worried about green yolks: remove the pan from the heat and let it sit, covered, until it reaches room temperature. Next, place the pan in the refrigerator overnight. 

Then, hold your breath while you peel and slice your eggs open!

Marbled tea eggs

Enjoy these eggs out of hand, slice them in half and top them with a bit of caviar, make them into egg salad (amazing), or use them for deviled eggs. 

P.S. If you love these as much as I do, you can freeze your braising liquid to reuse for your next batch. 

If you don't have a steamer basket, you can also boil the eggs for about 5 minutes, and then chill and crack them before adding them to the tea mixture. I'm just a huge fan of how steaming eggs making them so much easier to peel. 

Foodie extravaganza logo

Did you know that January is Hot Tea Month? To celebrate, we are posting recipes with hot tea, and we have a variety of recipes, including dishes made with tea and dishes to to go with your tea. 

Along with the black tea, I added some chamomile rose tea for added fragrance. You could add any spicy tea to the black tea. 

These also make delicious deviled eggs, perfect to serve at tea time. 

Chinese tea deviled eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe

Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
Marbled Chinese tea eggs are a fun snack to make and serve.


  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups water, plus more for steaming and chilling the eggs
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 bags of black tea such as Earl Grey
  • 3 bags of chamomile, chai, or any fragrant or spicy tea of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 strip of orange zest


  1. Set up a steamer in a pan of water and bring the water to a boil. Add the eggs to the steamer basket and cover the pan. Steam for 6 minutes. In the meantime, set up an ice water bath in a medium bowl. 
  2. Place the eggs into the ice water bath. 
  3. While the eggs are cooling, bring the 3 cups of water, soy sauce, teas, sugar, cinnamon stick, Chinese five spice, star anise, and orange zest to a boil. 
  4. Using the back of a spoon, tap the eggs all over to crack the shells. Place the eggs into the boiling tea mixture, and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit until the pan reaches room temperature. 
  5. Refrigerate the pan overnight. You can bring the eggs back to room temperature before peeling and serving. 
eggs, tea, marbled eggs
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My favorite chinese food cookbooks that I used to research these eggs include:

Would you like to comment?

  1. I have never heard of this before - but oh I'm going to have to try these soon, I love the idea of infusing all that delicious flavor into an easy and favorite snack!

  2. These look so good with the marble effect!

  3. Oh! These are gorgeous, Karen. I can't wait to make them. Thanks for joining me this month.

  4. They look beautiful. Love the marbled effect. Also i like the black tea and rose flavors, they are great together and these marbled eggs should be delicious too.


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