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

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 quick 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 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.

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)

To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
4.89 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: street food
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 72kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 12 large eggs

Marinade (*Footnote 1)

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | 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

 

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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Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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18 thoughts on “Chinese Tea Eggs (w/ Soft and Hard Boiled Eggs, 茶叶蛋)

  1. Thomas


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

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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.

      Reply
      1. Thomas

        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.

      2. Maggie Post author

        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 🙂

  2. chinablue


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

    Reply
    1. Thomas

      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 🙂

      Reply
  3. Hai


    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.

    Reply
  4. L. H.


    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.

    Reply
  5. April Deeana Stiles


    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.

    Reply
  6. Rebecca

    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?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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!

      Reply
  7. Hannah

    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.

    Reply
  8. Cleo Cockrum


    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??

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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!

      Reply