Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs / Cha Ye Dan 茶叶蛋


Are you are a soy-braised food lover?

Yes? I am. If you follows the smell of what you love, walking through the lanes of any typical Chinese street / night markets in most Chinese communities or even some neighbourhood air-conditioned shopping malls in Singapore might eventually lure you to a simmering pot of aromatic soy-braised eggs.

These soy braised eggs are called Chinese tea leaves eggs (茶叶蛋). These un-shelled hard boiled eggs are braised in soy broth which is typically made of various spices, soy sauces and tea leaves. To enhance the penetration of flavours into the eggs, the un-shelled hard boiled eggs are lightly cracked before simmering the eggs in the broth. As a result, the cracks will produce nice marbling design when the eggs are peeled and also make the eggs extra fragrant and favoursome to enjoy.

You might ask... Why are the eggs always in a never-ending simmering of soy broth? We believe that the tea leaf eggs will be extra fragrant if they are steeped in the broth for several hours or longer.

Having said that, I don't wish to waste lots of time or gas or power to cook the eggs forever! In fact, there is a quick and easy way to cook and enjoy tea leaf eggs at home and I promise you that these home-cooked tea leaf eggs are as authentic and flavoursome as those that you would buy from those never-ending simmering pots.

Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs Cha Ye Dan
 Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs / Cha Ye Dan 茶叶蛋
The Tie Guan Yin 铁观音 tea that I have used
It is classified as one of the Oolong tea.
The spices that I have used plus a cloth to bag the tea leaves
Cook eggs in boiling water until it is fully cooked through.
Remove the inner layer of the soaked mandarin peel.
Place tea on a muslin cloth and wrap it.
The two kinds of soy sauce that I used
Combine all ingredients except the eggs together and bring it to boil.
Remove he heat to low immediately after after addition of eggs and cook for only 15 mins.
Leave the eggs in the broth for 4 hours in room temperature and then longer in the fridge, preferably overnight. 
On the next day, you will have this fragrant and flavoursome eggs to enjoy!

Here's the recipe that I have mostly adapted from Christine's Recipes

Serve 6
6 eggs
adequate tea to taste*
1 dried mandarin peel (about 4 cm size), soaked in water for 5 mins
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce**
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

* I have used 4 tbsp Tieguanyin and the original recipe suggests two black tea bags plus 1 1/2 tbsp of any Chinese tea. The best thing to do is to use any tea you like!
According to Wikipedia, some Chinese tea leaf eggs recipes do not use tea leaves but their eggs are called as tea eggs too. To avoid caffeine in my son's food, I have also made Chinese tea leaf eggs without the tea and he is loving them too. 

** Adding dark soy sauce helps to darken the marbling lines on the peeled eggs. The original recipe adds only 1 tsp with two black tea bags which is not enough for me and so I have added 1 tbsp of the premium kind of dark soy sauce with extremely thick texture. If yours is thinner, you have to add 2-3 times more or you may adjust the amount according to your liking.

To cook boiled eggs:
Place eggs in a pot with adequate amount of water, about 2.5cm or 1 inch above the surface of the eggs. Turn on the stove heat to high and bring it to boil with a lid on. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 mins as the rigorous boiling water can cause the eggs to crack easily. Remove from the heat with the lid on. Use the residue heat to cook the egg for 10-15 mins.

Remove eggs from the hot water and soak them in cold water until cold to touch. Gently tap the egg shells to crack the shells. Set aside.

To avoid having any subtle bitterness, remove the inner layer of the mandarin peel.

Place all ingredients except the eggs and 1 liter (4 cups) of water in a pot and bring it to boil using medium-high heat.

Carefully place the cracked eggs in the pot and reduce the heat to low immediately. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 15-20 mins. Remove the tea bags. Cover and continue to cook in low heat for another 5 mins. Remove the pot from the heat with lid on. Let the eggs soak in the tea mixture for about 4 hrs at room temperature and then overnight or more in the fridge. Serve the eggs either cold or warm. To reheat the eggs, place the eggs with the tea mixture in a pot and simmer with low heat until they reach your desired temperature. To eat, remove the eggs from the tea mixture. Peel their shells and enjoy.

Happy Cooking
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17 comments:

  1. Ooohhh, I know the scent of "cha yip dan".. I grow up smelling those scents in shopping malls! Haha.. Mum would buy 1 or 2 eggs for me, and I would stand next to the shop to finish it.. Nice.. When I was younger, I like.. But now, I don't like already.. I prefer my MIL's braised pork legs with eggs, haha..

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  2. Tea smoked egg! My mom favourite! We always buy it at Chinese Herbal Tea shops in Hong Kong :D

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  3. Hi Zoe,
    Yum! I've made some cha ye dan too ... and I don't mind pop over to have some of these tasty fragrant cha ye dan you've made :D

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  4. Zoe these chinese eggs look beautiful!!
    xo

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  5. These are my favourite, I love to drink the soup too!

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  6. Lovely, my two daughters love tea leaf eggs very much. I only bought those ready packed tea leaf from Yu Yan Sang and cooked for them. The eggs don't taste as nice as yours, I am sure.

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  7. Zoe, I love these tea eggs! I usually spot them outside the Chinese medicine shops at shopping complex. The smell is really appetizing.

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  8. Thank you for this recipe. I have been wondering how to cook these eggs. I love the smell of the boiling ingredients.

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  9. The fragrance of your 茶叶蛋 has lured me here! Yum!

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  10. Hi Zoe,
    I can almost smell your tea eggs from here! Haha! Have not made tea eggs in ages. One of our favourite snacks. Yum!

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  11. I know all about this dish but have never had eggs this way, much less made them myself. They look really good! I gotta try this -- thanks so much.

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  12. We had roast eggs the other night that were a little overwhelming for me. But the spices in these sound so intriguing.

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  13. These are so gorgeous!! I have always wanted to try to make these, but I'm afraid I would be the only one in my house who will eat it. No one else likes eggs on their own :( Oh well. More for me ;)

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  14. I love 茶叶蛋 so much~
    This recipe is simple and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing~

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  15. I'm a HUGE fan of tea eggs and speaking of which, my mother hasn't made them in forever! I think you've been very clever with your overnight soaking technique! I'm sure they're lovely but I'm more in love when the whites of the eggs are super tinted by the dark braising liquid and just taste completely like herbs when I bite in! I really must get my mom to make these (or just make them myself) soon!

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