Chinese Tea Eggs (w/ Soft and Hard Boiled Eggs, 茶叶蛋)

4.92 from 25 votes
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Make delicious hard boiled and soft boiled marbled tea eggs that are bursting with flavor. {Gluten Free adaptable}

Chinese Tea Eggs (marbled eggs) using soft boiled and hard boiled eggs

Chinese tea eggs were one of my favorite snacks growing up. Yes, while you might have been snacking on chips or cookies, back in China, we snack on savory eggs 🙂 The tea eggs are so popular and you can find them everywhere – from a breakfast street vendor who has a big pot of these eggs constantly ready on the side of her cart, or packaged peeled tea eggs at Seven Eleven.

The tea eggs have a beautiful marbled surface. They are simmered in a savory liquid with star anise, cinnamon sticks, Sichuan peppercorns, and black tea until soaked with the flavors of the spices and a refreshing tea fragrance.

Chinese Tea Eggs close with runny egg yolk close up

Why this recipe

Traditionally, tea eggs need to be cooked twice. The eggs are cooked until hard boiled the first time, and then cooked in a savory marinade for several hours. The reason they are cooked for such a long time is that, as a street food, they need to be preserved when refrigeration is not available. The result is that they will end up extremely overcooked, with a rubbery texture. Although I like the flavor of those tea eggs, I’ve always wanted my eggs cooked to the tenderness I like – with a set white and runny yolk.

That’s why I developed this recipe, which creates the most flavorful marbled tea eggs with a perfectly cooked texture, to whatever doneness you like.

Here is the trick if you’re making soft boiled tea eggs. If you let the eggs marinate a bit longer, two to three days, the egg yolk will start to get thicker and turn a beautiful light brown color. It’s so creamy and bursting with flavor. Top it on a bowl of simple noodle soup or simply on some steamed rice, and you will feel such happiness when you bite into the savory creamy egg yolk.

Chinese Tea Eggs with soft boiled eggs

How to make tea eggs

1. Dry ingredients

You just need to prepare a few dried ingredients to make the tea egg marinade liquid – black tea bags, cinnamon sticks, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, and bay leaves. Then you need to boil all the ingredients with the soy sauce and water to infuse the flavor.

Don’t have these ingredients on hand? No worries! Simply use 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder and you’ll make a marinade liquid just as tasty!

Chinese Tea Eggs step by step pictures

2. How to properly crack the eggs

You can either gently rotate and knock the eggs on a hard surface, or use the back of a spoon to crack the eggs. Handle the eggs carefully if you make soft boiled eggs. You want the egg shells to crack enough to let the marinade in without breaking the eggs apart.

How to crack open an egg for making Chinese tea eggs

3. A trick to use the minimal amount of marinating liquid

I use a quart bag to marinate the eggs so I can use a minimal amount of marianting liquid to soak the eggs. If you plan to use a container instead of a quart bag, you should double the amount of marinade so you have enough to cover all the eggs.

4. Leftover marinade

The tea egg marinating liquid, if stored properly, can be used more than once. If you plan to do so, make sure to use a clean spoon to remove the eggs from the liquid. And you should boil the liquid and let it cool again the next time you use it.

I like to batch-cook tea eggs and store them for later. They make a perfect breakfast, noodle topping, and between-meal snack!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and happy cooking!

Chinese Tea Eggs with runny egg yolk

More egg recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Chinese Tea Eggs (w/ Soft and Hard Boiled Eggs, 茶叶蛋) - Make delicious marbled eggs that are bursting with flavor. {Gluten Free adaptable}

Chinese Tea Eggs (w/ Soft and Hard Boiled Eggs, 茶叶蛋)

4.92 from 25 votes
To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: street food
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 12 large eggs

Marinade (*Footnote 1)


  • Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until bringing to a boil. Turn to medium-low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from your stove and let cool completely. Once done, remove and discard the tea bags.
  • To boil the eggs, heat a pot of water (enough to cover all the eggs) over high heat until boiling. Turn to low heat. Carefully place the eggs in the pot using a ladle, to prevent the eggs from cracking.
  • Boil 5 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.
  • While cooking the eggs, prepare an ice bath by combining ice and tap water in a big bowl.
  • Once the eggs are cooked, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. If you don’t have ice on hand, simply run cool tap water over the eggs for a couple minutes until they cool down.
  • Gently crack the eggs using the back of a spoon. You want to make sure the egg shells are cracked enough so the marinade will reach the interior, without cracking the eggs apart (especially if you made soft boiled eggs). If you’re in a hurry, you can also peel the eggs and marinate them peeled. The eggs will be ready in 12 hours this way.
  • Transfer the eggs to a quart-size ziplock bag, then carefully pour in the marinade along with the dry ingredients. Marinate overnight for peeled eggs, or 24 hours for cracked “marble” eggs.
  • Peel the eggs and enjoy them cold or at room temperature!
  • You can store the leftover eggs in the marinade for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. The marinade will help with preserving the eggs. Note, the eggs will become more flavorful and saltier over time.


1. Note, the recipe uses a quart-size ziplock bag to marinate the eggs, so you won’t need as much marinating liquid. Double the amount of marinade if you’re planning to marinate the eggs in a container



Serving: 1serving, Calories: 72kcal, Carbohydrates: 0.4g, Protein: 6.3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1.6g, Cholesterol: 186mg, Sodium: 70mg, Potassium: 67mg, Sugar: 0.4g, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 0.9mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

The post was originally published on May 4, 2014 and updated on June 1, 2018.

Chinese Tea Eggs (w/ Soft and Hard Boiled Eggs, 茶叶蛋) - Make delicious marbled eggs that are bursting with flavor. {Gluten Free adaptable}

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Thomas says:

    5 stars
    This looks fantastic! I can’t wait to try it out. By the way, what kind of caviar did you use?

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks for commenting and glad you like the recipe! 🙂
      I used the cheap caviar of lumpfish in this one, but it worked out just great.

      • Thomas says:

        I finally got around to cooking this and the eggs came out wonderfully. I cooked them pretty soft, and the tea and spice flavors went really well with the runny yolk. The caviar was the icing on the (already very delicious) cake.

      • Maggie says:

        Thank you for trying out my recipe and sent me the delicious picture! The eggs look great!
        I really like the idea to cook the eggs very soft with running yolk. I will try it next time 🙂

    • Pedro says:

      5 stars
      Hi Maggie! I am a huge fan of your blog, your recipes are always delicious. It just crossed my mind to cook tea eggs and sure enough, I found your recipe immediately! I’ll try it ASAP. Thank you and greetings from Germany!

  2. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. This reminds me of what we do in England we pickle eggs so I think I would love this recipe and I love the caviar. Great recipe.

  3. chinablue says:

    5 stars
    I love tea eggs and it looks so delicious!I’ll definitely give it a try, thanks for sharing…

    • Thomas says:

      Thanks for stopping by, chinablue! Maggie and I have been on a tea-egg marathon in the past couple weeks. Even as someone who didn’t grow up eating them, it is great having a lot of them on hand to eat at any time of day 🙂

  4. Hai says:

    5 stars
    I made a huge mistake reading your blog while I’m hungry. Now I am stuck at work while my mouth is watering.

    Thank you! I will defenitely try as i love tea eggs.

  5. Miriam says:

    5 stars
    These were so delicious, especially on the 3rd day!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  6. L. H. says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this tea egg recipe multiple times. Never fails to be delicious! I make them soft boiled so it’s slightly runny when you cut it in half. I’ve thrown these into my steel cut oatmeal with a dash of soy sauce, making this dish savory, and they totally work with each other. The perfect warm and gooey dish on a cold morning. Thank you for the recipe! There’s nothing I would change.

    • GraciaSol says:

      Try what you’re doing with a little bit of LanGaoMa Spicy Chili Crisp added as a bit of a condiment… Oh Lordy, that’s Good!!!

    • Maggie Dee says:

      Hi! I was really excited for this recipe but things I went wrong somewhere. I thought I followed everything exactly and they marinated in a bag for 18 hours and when peeled I didn’t have any of that pretty marbling. Could I not have cracked deep enough or not used enough soy sauce? I appreciate any advice 🙂

      • Maggie Zhu says:

        I think maybe you didn’t crack the eggs deep enough to break up the membrane (the thin film between the shell and the egg white). When you use soft boiled eggs, it’s a bit tricky to crack the eggs deep enough without breaking apart the inside. For a marbling result, you can take out the marinating eggs, try to peel off a very small piece of the shell and make sure to break the film to let more marinade to soak inside.

  7. April Deeana Stiles says:

    4 stars
    The anise taste was a bit strong for me. I think next time I will leave it out. Still good all the same and they look so pretty.

  8. Erika Donaghy says:

    These were one of our favorite snacks when we lived in HangZhou! I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  9. idlehouse says:

    5 stars
    thank you for the recipe, I used easter eggs so with your marinade recipe. Delicious.

  10. Rebecca says:

    My eggs are currently marinating in the fridge. I followed the recipe as is and then realized something was missing. The bay leaves! It’s not listed in the ingredients 🙁 can I throw the leaves into my bag? Is it too late?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Rebecca, sorry I left the bay leaves out of the ingredient list! I think the eggs should still come out pretty good even you didn’t add the leaves. I have updated the recipe now. Thanks for letting me know!

  11. Diane says:

    I’d like to try your recipe and have never had tea eggs before. I have a question about your recipe. In step 7 it says, “Transfer the eggs to a quart-size ziplock bag, then carefully pour in the marinade along with the dry ingredients. ”. Step 1 has all the marinade ingredients in the pan. What dry ingredients are left for step 7?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Diane, sorry about the confusion! I was talking about the dried ingredients from the pan (you’ve already added them in step 1).

  12. Hannah says:

    These turned out perfectly. I was looking for a salty, non-carby snack and these hit the spot.

    On a whim, I also took the leftover liquid and reduced it down to see if I could use it as a glaze for fish. It has been perfect on every piece of fish I’ve tried it on. I’m going to give it a try on chicken wings tonight.

  13. Cleo Cockrum says:

    5 stars
    I just made these and they are soaking, in the cracked shells in the fridge. The directions say they will be ready in 5 days. At that time, do I discard the shells and brine and continue to store in the fridge?
    Or do I continue keeping the eggs in brine until eaten?
    How long do you think they’ll last??

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Cleo, the eggs will be ready the next day (not after 5 days), after you marinate them overnight. Then you can store the eggs in the marinade for another 4 to 5 days. The eggs will taste more flavorful over time in the marinade, plus the salt in the marinade will help preserve the eggs.
      I think my instructions might be a bit misleading. Thanks for bringing it up. I will do some minor editing now.
      Hope you enjoy the eggs!

  14. Camilla says:

    Hi! Thank you for a wonderful recipe! How long will the eggs keep in the fridge afterward, if stored in the marinade for a few days? I’m definitely gonna try this soon!

    • Maggie says:

      I think you can definitely store the eggs for a week.

  15. Rebecca Chia says:

    Hi there, I’m thinking of trying this recipe. Should I not have the dry ingredients, does it mean that the five-spice powder (which I do have in my pantry) can be used to replace the peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise AND the black tea bag/leaves? Or should I use five-spice powder with the black tea bag/leaves?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Rebecca, if you plan to use five spice powder to replace the spices, you should use five spice powder with the black tea bag.

  16. Sally Swoveland says:

    If using the five spice do I still add the sugar and salt or just the five spice and tea?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Sally, you will need to add sugar and salt if using five spice and tea.

  17. Sonu says:

    Hello! Are the eggs supposed to be marinated outside or in the refrigerator? I think they should be outside but just double checking!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Sonu, actually you need to marinate the eggs in the fridge, to preserve their freshness. You can definitely leave them outside for a couple of hours to speed up the process, but I would always store the eggs in marinade liquid in the fridge, so they can stay good for about 1 week.

  18. wyns says:

    can I keep the hard boiled egg insulated with the hot marinade overnight?

    • Maggie says:

      You can keep the eggs in the marinade overnight but I would always chill the marinade, so the eggs will stay soft inside. If you use hard boiled eggs, it’s totally to use the hot marinade.

  19. Zo says:

    These are delicious every time! I like to add a couple of dried chilis for a kick.

    You mentioned the marinade being good for another go with proper storage – what would be considered proper storage?
    Also, can these be frozen and thawed for storage? eating 12 eggs in 5 days is a bit much for a family of two.

  20. Jeremy says:

    5 stars
    Spent two years in Taiwan and made this recipe back in the U.S. Yum!

  21. Asma says:

    I am really excited to try making these. It’ll be a first! The marinade already tastes good. Thanks for posting this!!

  22. Quinn says:

    5 stars
    Yet another great recipe. I doubled the marinade because I wanted to add a half dozen duck eggs and I needed enough marinade cover everything. I added some sliced ginger and dried red chilis to the marinade, but otherwise followed the recipe.

    After only 24 hours in the marinade, these eggs are incredibly flavorful. A wonderful addition to our hot summer night salad medley dinner. I haven’t tried the caviar yet, but I can tell you that these eggs go great with some prosciutto on top of a salad.

    Thanks again Maggie!

  23. Maria says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie! Greetings from Scotland! I love your blog! All your recipes are always incredibly delicious and never disappoint! I made these eggs and I was wondering how and with what else I could use the marine. I have some frozen tofu in the freezer, would you recommend to use the marinade with it for a stir and fry? Thanks for your recipies and your cooking course, such a great idea!

    • Maggie says:

      Yeah I would definitely use it for marinade. It should make delicious marinated tofu.
      You can also use it to make sauce and noodle soup. It is very rich and salty, so you will need to add other things.
      For example, use some marinade with chicken broth to make a quick noodle soup base.
      You can also use the marinade with a bit broth to make the master sauce like in this recipe:
      Then use it to make a delicious noodle sauce.
      Glad to hear you like my recipes 🙂

  24. Fred Rickson says:

    You can also fry or poach the eggs if you like.

  25. gregory anderson says:

    Yes, I prefer to not have rubbered egg-yolks actually. Your instructions are most welcomed to our household. As I was reading them I realized that I must include these in my fusion cooking — to make Chinese Tea Egg Salad Sandwiches. I know, but I was successful with Korean Bulgogi New Mexican Green Chile Burritos. Since we are adults now, we can play with our food.

    I will make both versions of your recipe, and be back to rate the recipe. I have one question: have you tried putting them into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes? Not to freeze them, but I use that trick with Jamaican Jerk Chicken in Zippered bags to speed up the marinating time and it works well enough to prep for cooking it for dinner the same night. I’m not saying it works that way with the eggs. Just wondering.

    • Maggie says:

      I wouldn’t putting the eggs in the freezer because the cold temperature might mess up the texture of the egg. That being said, maybe they will be fine if the eggs only stay in the freezer for a very short period of time.
      Also, if I really want to speed things up, I would simply crack an egg and drizzle a bit of the marinade liquid and eat it directly 🙂

  26. Diana says:

    I am making this with my little kids and wondering if the tea will affect them. Can I make it with less tea? Maybe with 1 tea bag ? Can’t what to try it! Thanks!

  27. Dera says:

    What would be the best method to reheat this after they’ve been peeled and marinating in the fridge?

  28. Chloe says:

    I made your recipe and wow it transported me back to my childhood. The marinade has the most Chinese fragrance there is! I can see the giant pot of tea eggs at a street vendor in my mind when I smell it. It’s perfect.

    I have a question regarding the marbling. I love soft boiled eggs so I cracked the egg a bit more carefully, still cracking it all over. It seems the membrane between the shell and the egg is catching a lot of the liquid so my marbling is really light, not as dark as in your picture, even after 3 days. Is there a technique to make the marbling more distinct or does it just work better with hard/medium boiled since you can crack the eggs a bit harder to tear the membrane?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Chloe, I’m glad to hear you like this recipe!
      For the marbling, I do think it’s always gonna be lighter if you’re using soft boiled eggs. The best way to get a bit more marbling is to use not-super-fresh eggs, so it’s possible to break the membrane even if you use soft boiled eggs.
      The other trick is, you can break the eggs a bit more once it’s refrigerated because it hardens up once chilled and marinated.
      And of course, you can always do hard/medium eggs for the better marbling but I love soft eggs too much 🙂

  29. Trina says:

    5 stars
    I’ve only had tea eggs a couple of times and loved them. I never thought of making them myself until my sister said her husband made some. So I found your recipe and I made some late last night, and I couldn’t wait the 24 hours to eat them, so I tasted them at lunch time… and then my whole family ate them up. So now I have to go out to buy more eggs and not tell my family about them until after the 24 hrs. 🙂 I love that the recipe is so simple, that you use less marinade and that you can re-use the marinade! And of course the best part is it’s delicious and healthy!!!! Thank you for this recipe!!!!

  30. Chinese food lover from Switzerland says:

    Hi Maggie, yesterday I googled “Tea egg” and I am so glad I did, because I found your great blog. I love chinese food (especially from Sichuan), but have so far been quite unsucessful of cooking those wonderful dishes I enjoyed in China at home. Thanks to your blog, this might change. I have just prepared the marinade for the eggs and now my whole flat smells wonderful. Thanks a lot

  31. NoBody says:

    4 stars
    I love herbal tea eggs and YES, this is how I would love the eggs to be (I did it yesterday, 5mins) and its still inside the fridge now. I have a question?
    I would like to eat this egg warm. Do u think I can reheat it a while?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      The best way to warm the eggs are putting them in a warm water bath before eating. If you’re worried about the marinade being washed away, you can put them in a plastic bag, but I wouldn’t worry too much since you can simply drizzle a bit marinade afterwards. It’s hard to heat up soft boiled eggs (if that’s the texture you prefer) without cooking it at the same time so I wouldn’t use super hot water and keep the soaking short.

  32. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    Made this recipe again and love these eggs! Reminds me of street food at Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore!

  33. Kristin says:

    5 stars
    These eggs are HEAVENLY. I used to marinate peeled eggs in just soy sauce to top off ramen. These are a real treat. Thanks Maggie!

  34. Maria says:

    5 stars
    I made lovely soft boiled tea leaves egg by following this recipe, thanks Maggie!

  35. Emily mcEnroe says:

    5 stars
    This recipe tastes exactly like the tea eggs I grew up in Hong Kong. Very authentic. I love the detail instructions and using various ingredient from scratch than using Pre mix marinade. The half boiled eggs are so delicious after soaking it overnight. The Maggie gives very detail instructions, which make this recipe very easy to follow even for beginner cook. In the recipe I could adjust the total number of eggs and it will automatically adjust all the measurements. Thanks for sharing! It taste soooo delicious!

  36. Anj Paz ( Philippines) says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe so much! Bringing me back to the memories i had with my late husband. We used to just drive to chinatown just to have eat this and some more chinese food.

  37. Shelby says:

    5 stars
    I love tea eggs and this is the best recipe I’ve used hands down.

  38. Amy says:

    5 stars
    I’ve gotten so many compliments on this recipe! Appreciate all the easy tips and tricks you’ve included as well. My family is Taiwanese but we immigrated to the US 2 decades ago. Every time my family gets together now, they request that I make these tea eggs for them.

  39. Hachi says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe so much, great idea for grabe and go snack!

  40. Becca Carle says:

    Love these eggs and this recipe so much! I’ve made this recipe at least 5-10 times, it is so easy (glad she gave the different times for boiling eggs) and so delicious. Thank you for sharing it!

  41. linda says:

    After putting the eggs in the marinade, do I refrigerate them?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yes, you should refrigerate the eggs once they are in the marinade.

  42. LivingWithTheEssentials says:

    5 stars
    What an amazing flavor upgrade for the humble egg!
    While my first batch were not as beautifully marbled, but more splotchy, the flavor; perfection! I started with 5 eggs hard cooked in my Instant Pot and will make another 5 today using the marinade again…and then again. Thank you for such a great recipe. Now I need to plan a hiking trip and pack these gems.

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