Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs

17 August 2017 by Caitlin Armit

I first heard of Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs in my college days when one of my supervisors brought some in to a class for us to share. Most of us were a little suspicious at first but we rose to the challenge and discovered a new delicious and healthy snack as a result.

Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs, also known as ‘marbled eggs’ or ‘cha ye dan’, are simple to make and can keep for approximately 4 days in the fridge. They’re a great option breakfast on the run or to satisfy peckish cravings throughout the day. They’re unique and beautiful appearance makes them an interesting talking point if you’re asked to bring a dish to celebratory occasion.

The recipe includes Chinese 5 Spice – a combination of 5 or more common spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, 3 clove buds, fennel and 6-10 Szechwan peppers. Some recipes include ginger, nutmeg, Chinese angelica (dang gui), Goji berries (wolfberry) or other warming spices. Chinese 5 Spice can be easily purchased at regular supermarkets or you can find varieties at Asian food markets. The recipe also calls for black soy sauce, which is sweeter and less salty than regular soy sauce. This is probably easier to source from Asian food markets but if that’s difficult for you, just use normal soy sauce. To me, the difference between including dark soy sauce or not wasn’t outstanding in terms of flavour however the dark soy sauce did bring out a darker stain in the marbling.

Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs Ingredients

8 eggs

pinch of salt

3 tbsp black soy sauce

3 tbsp normal soy sauce

2 tbsp chinese 5 spice

1 tbsp tangerine or orange zest

3 cups water (or enough to cover the eggs)

loose leaf black tea 2 tbsp


  • Add eggs to a saucepan with a pinch of salt and then cover eggs with cool water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain gently and let eggs cool.
  • Use the back of a teaspoon to create cracks all around the egg shells but do not remove the egg shells. It is important that the cracks make it through the membrane that lies between the egg white and the shell if you want to optimise the marbling effect.
  • Place eggs back in the saucepan along with 3 cups of water, both types of soy sauce, tea leaves and the tangerine or orange zest and the Chinese 5 spice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.
  • Remove from heat and let the eggs steep overnight or for 8 hours. The longer they steep, the stronger the flavour is.
  • Store eggs unpeeled in a sealed container in the fridge.

**Tip** Eggs which have been cooked for a long time often show a greyish ring around the yolk. This is normal but if you wish to avoid this and keep a yellow yolk then simply make the tea mixture separately and steep the eggs in the mixture afterwards. If you choose this method you may wish to steep the eggs for longer.

Categories: Brisbane Chinese Dietetics Blog | Digestive Health Brisbane

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