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Tea eggs Yunnan style 茶叶蛋

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Luxi

So much easier than I thought. Definitely one to try at home, thanks for posting. Does the type of tea influence the eggs' flavour? I would have thought the tea is very much overwhelmed by the other ingredients. 

 

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realmayo

I'm going to try making these tomorrow. :D

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abcdefg

@Luxi I'm not really sure the type of tea leaves make much difference. Like you said, the nuances of flavor are doubtless overwhelmed by the other ingredients. What I usually do in point of fact is use tea from the back of my tea shelf that is past prime time for careful connoisseur drinking, or something a friend might have given me that was mainly notable for the pretty gift box it came in.

 

But whatever variety, I do tend to use a lot of tea leaves: when making six eggs or less, I use a teaspoon of dry leaves per egg. The acidity of the tea contributes something to the mix and seems to balance the other flavors.

 

Also, even though this is clearly one of those recipes that can easily be modified according to what you have available in the cupboard, all recipes that I've found on the Chinese internet call for strong, dark soy sauce, 老抽,instead of the light soy sauce 生抽 that is easier to use in daily cooking.

 

IMG_9107.thumb.JPG.daf37cf3c104b9488fe448218330d3f1.JPGThis stuff is so thick it will coat the back of a spoon like molasses or honey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@realmayo -- I know you've got plenty of tea savvy and I'm sure it will be a success. Post a snapshot if you have a chance.

 

 

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Shelley

They look lovely. I worry about leaving them to stand in the water that has been boiling and now cools down slowly for as you say about 8 hours. Isn't this optimum bug breeding ground? Shouldn't you cool them quickly and then keep cool till you eat them.

 

If I don't cool standard hard boiled eggs quickly the yolk goes black and they smell a bit sulphury.

 

Is it something to do with other ingredients? Or is it all part of it?

 

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889

There used to be a vendor right inside the awful Hongqiao tourist market selling eggs bubbling away in a cauldron of dark boiling water. The market, as if it wasn't noxious enough already, was filled with the pungent vinegar-and-sulphur smell emanating from the brew.

 

Is this the same stuff? Is it sort of a vegetarian version of that all-the-neighbors-know-what-you're-cooking salted fish?

 

I don't see any vinegar or sulphur in your recipe, though.

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abcdefg

@889 -- No vinegar and no sulfur. Mine don't have a strong smell. The street vendors inside a confined space that I always want to silently assassinate right on the spot are the ones grilling stinky tofu 臭豆腐。 I don't mind eating it, but smelling it is something I can easily do without.

 

@Shelley -- I suppose if it were summer in a tropical zone, I would let them steep and cool in their cooking water inside the fridge instead of on the kitchen counter. The cooling down time is also a marinating process, allows additional flavor to seep in, but the yolks still don't get black. And I really don't think that it makes them unsafe.

 

IMG_9193.thumb.JPG.447e762457eda006cc1e902dc3602ffc.JPGIMG_9194.thumb.JPG.09b16c38dbc751d73b36fd9080a42fa7.JPG

 

I have seen some recipes that call for first pre-boiling the eggs in plain water for only 3 or 4 minutes, then cracking the shells and proceeding to cook them some more in the flavored tea water. When using this method, one still lets them stand in the flavored tea water to cool down. This provides the marbling which makes them look attractive, but doesn't give them quite as much flavor.

 

IMG_9203.thumb.JPG.f70cac4b23bfdfb6cda2548d9f6c4bde.JPG

 

Served one up this morning on soda crackers. Had it with some freshly-brewed Pu'er tea as a snack.

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iekkim

These look so good! My grandma (I learned that they're called Waipo in Mandarin!) used to make these for us and I really miss it. Thank you so much for the recipe!

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abcdefg

You're welcome, @iekkim  -- There's actually a popular restaurant chain here in China called Waipo Jia 外婆家 or Grandmother's Home/Grandmother's Kitchen. I think part of its appeal is that lots of young Chinese have fond memories of Grandma's good, honest home cooking.

 

58bbaac5a6b2f_grandmas1.thumb.JPG.ba72f3dd6ed484204b99e825c6faf54b.JPG58bbaad05a920_grandmas2.JPG.26ba01ef6c84acfc86e65c3eafb0b196.JPG

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iekkim

I hope it's in Shanghai. :( That way, I can visit the place.

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somethingfunny
6 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Served one up this morning on soda crackers. Had it with some freshly-brewed Pu'er tea as a snack.

 

I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again:  abcdefg, I want your life.

 

And iekkim, 外婆家 is a chain of restaurants, I've been to a couple of them in different places although not in Shanghai, but they will almost certainly have at least one there.  (Actually, their website seems to suggest there are 24 branches in Shanghai).

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iekkim

@somethingfunny Ooooh! Thanks! I'll have to remember to check it out when I get there! It's been too long since I've last been to Shanghai.

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realmayo

I made these! :) Very nice, definitely tastier than regular hard boiled eggs ... though perhaps not be a sufficient margin to merit making them regularly!

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abcdefg

Glad you tried them, @realmayo. I feel the same way. Make them every now and then, but not as often as simple hard boiled eggs.

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Alex_Hart

I often make tea eggs, but I've never thought to make it with 普洱, does the taste actually change? And does better quality tea equate to better quality eggs? Will need to try this.

 

Having eaten at 外婆家 too many times to count now (every time an out of town visitor comes, they want to try it), I can vouch that they're quite decent! They have a fish with fresh 花椒 that I love. 

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abcdefg

To be completely honest, I'm not sure the kind of tea makes a whole lot of difference. It smells richer while cooking if one uses Pu'er tea. And I think it improves the end result to use plenty of tea: not just enough to give the eggs color; you want the tea to impart flavor to them as well.

 

I never use my best tea for tea eggs. More often something from the back of the shelf that wasn't as delicious as I'd hoped. The same kind of tea I use for breaking in and seasoning a new Yixing teapot. A couple years ago, a casual acquaintance gave me a big bag of loose raw Pu'er. It was unfinished 毛茶 that she and her family grew on a plantation outside Simao. That was my "go to" tea egg leaf for several years.

 

I do think the quality of the eggs makes a substantial difference, however, and I always buy the "free-range" kind instead of what Chinese call "factory eggs." 土蛋 instead of 人造蛋。They have more flavor.

 

egg.thumb.JPG.dc1f285a38237e26107ff51b5925016c.JPG

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Jellyfish

Dear @abcdefg, thank you so much for this recipe. I've only just discovered the food&drinks section of the forum and your contributions (writing style, images, instructions) are just so lovely! Since I love and miss tea eggs as a snack I've decided to give these a go.

They turned out very pretty but with only the faintest hint of tea and spices. The tea eggs I had in China were all very rich in flavour - I can see two possible explanations for this. One, when I bought these in China, they were usually in a plastic bag with a little bit of the liquid inside too, so when I peeled them, they inevitably got covered in more liquid, too. Or two, I simply didn't use enough tea and spices :lol:

I even tried the liquid itself after the eggs had already been soaking in it overnight - I didn't use enough salt. The flavour that came out the strongest was the star anise, followed by tea, followed by soy sauce (although I don't find dark soy sauce to be very flavoursome), and then hints of other spices. So, my plan: next time I'll use more spices, more salt, and try the liquid before I cook the eggs to make sure it's well balanced.

I don't know why it never occurred to me to try making these at home, I'm so glad I've found your recipe! Thank you for sharing!

And the images:

 

tmp_15468-IMG_20170510_071242-623770866.jpg

tmp_15468-IMG_20170511_082544-128440483.jpg

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abcdefg

@Jellyfish, your egg looks great; nicely marbled.

 

2 hours ago, Jellyfish said:

So, my plan: next time I'll use more spices, more salt, and try the liquid before I cook the eggs to make sure it's well balanced.

 

I certainly agree with that plan! By all means, adjust the quantities as you go along until you find the combination that gives you the desired results. Some of the small vendors that sell them on the streets here in Kunming start a batch and cook them slowly at a simmer all morning long. I've been reluctant to try that, as I feared it might make them leathery and tough.

 

I made tea eggs again this morning and would have to confess that I wish mine had more flavor too. I look forward to following your progress; maybe I can benefit from your experience. Thanks for posting.

 

IMG_0173.thumb.JPG.dccf99a48971645a266091838fa3c0ff.JPG

 

 

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Alex_Hart

Perhaps heretical, but i would also suggest trying it the non-traditional way: boil the eggs first, cool them down quickly (ice water), peel them, then add them into the saucy bath for however long you wish (I avoid a long soak since I don't like overcooked eggs), then put them into a bowl with the brine and let them soak overnight (I usually aim for two days). You will of course lose the marbling, but I've found it preferable for the amount of flavor and the lack of overcooking. For guests, marbling is of course required :P

 

I've actually had bad luck buying eggs here, I guess. I buy organic cage free eggs in the US, but the 土鸡蛋 are too strong of a flavor for me in most cases, while the typical eggs are absolutely flavorless. The local vendor has four or five kinds of 土鸡蛋 and then three or four of the factory eggs - not sure I've tried them all. Did come home from girlfriend's hometown with a ginormous box of "wandering chicken eggs" (the chickens just wander around the village eating random stuff) and the yolks were dark orange with a really strong flavor. My girlfriend goes crazy for them saying she missed "real" eggs while in the US, but I find the flavor overpowering and slightly like a bad egg. I just bought some new 土鸡蛋 so hopefully these will be more to my tastes. 

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Jellyfish

@Alex_Hart Thanks for the input - I was wondering about soaking them for longer and without the shell. When I had tea eggs from street stalls in China, they never had any marbling, at least not that I can remember. They did however definitely have the shell still on. Ideally I'd like to keep it that way (it's quite neat for transport). Will have to experiment I guess... I think, as @abcdefg suggested, the first thing for me will be to gently boil them for longer. They might get rubbery but I'll just give it a go I think. Will report back!

Nice little tea egg task force we've got going here :D

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