One of my long-standing favorite places to relax in DC is a Chinese tea house in Georgetown that is bright, peaceful, and full of delicious offerings. Their marble tea egg is as beautiful as it is tasty, and it was the perfect thing to serve at this month’s Global Supper Club celebrating the Chinese New Year. Marble tea eggs are made by cracking the shells of hard boiled eggs and letting them soak in a flavorful black tea bath that seeps through the shells and stains the egg whites in a veined, marbled pattern. Once peeled, the eggs are beautiful to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. A delicate and special treat.
To make them, hard boil 6 eggs. Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower the eggs in gently, reduce the heat, and allow the eggs to simmer lightly for 8 minutes. Once that time is up, remove the eggs from the pot, run one under cool water, and open it up to make sure the yolk is solid. If so, run the remaining eggs under cool water until you are able to handle them, and then tap them with the back of a spoon to crack them. Whack them firmly, but keep the shells intact.
In the pot that the eggs boiled in, keep 1 cup of the hot water and pour the rest off. Add to the water 3/4 cup of low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of loose leaf black tea (or 2 tea bags), 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.
Add the eggs into the pot, making sure they are fully submerged. Put the pot in the refrigerator for at least one day, but two is best. Most recipes I saw suggest simmering the eggs in the tea mixture, which explains why marble tea eggs (at least the ones I have had) are always overcooked. A longer soak at a lower temperature achieves the same marbleization but keeps the yolks supple. When you’re ready to serve the eggs, remove them from the refrigerator for about an hour to let the chill come off of them.
Then, peel the eggs, taking care to admire the marble pattern on the egg white and on the inside of the egg shells. Give them a quick rinse to get rid of any rogue pieces of egg shells.
Slice the eggs into quarters and arrange them nicely in a dish. Drizzle a teaspoon of the tea mixture over each piece of egg, and serve them at room temperature.
After whetting our appetites with marble tea eggs, we feasted on vegetable dumplings, warmly spiced short ribs, ginger steamed whole fish, spicy chicken with greens, and seasonal citrus. Until next month!
This recipe is adapted from Steamy Kitchen.
- Eggs- 6 (yields 5)
- Soy sauce- 3/4 cup
- Black tea- 2 tablespoons
- Star anise- 2
- Cinnamon- 1 stick
- Peppercorns- 1 teaspoon