Tea-leaf (marble) eggs

preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking time: at least 3 1/2 hours (1 1/2 hours active)
emergency contact: carol

There are few things as exciting as having a batch of tea-leaf eggs on hand, ready for duty at breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snack time. They keep well refrigerated, submerged in their cooking liquid, for a week or so. To serve from the fridge, fish out as many eggs as you desire and reheat gently on the stove with a few spoonfuls of the liquid.

eggs – 1 1/2 dozen
pu-erh (po lei) black tea – 3 Tbsp
tieguanyin (iron maiden!) oolong tea – 6 Tbsp
jasmine tea pearls – 6 to 7
star anise – 6 to 7
cinnamon – 1 stick
salt – 2 Tbsp
sugar – 2 Tbsp
soy sauce – 1/2 cup (or less)
water – 2.5 L

Boil the eggs until the whites are set (about 8 minutes, although the timing doesn’t really matter so much). Gently crack the shells all over so the surface of each egg is covered in a web of hairline fractures. This will allow the flavour from the cooking liquid to penetrate the eggs.

Dump all the remaining ingredients into a medium-sized pot. If you have envelopes for loose leaf tea, package the tea leaves into these. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Lower the cracked eggs into the cooking liquid and simmer for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and taste the liquid. If there is a hint of bitterness, remove some of the tea leaves. Let the eggs sit in the cooking liquid at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Turn on the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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