Cracking up over Tea Eggs

Tea eggs soaking in soy, tea and spicesHumpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Which is no frickin’ surprise really, given that horses don’t have opposable thumbs.

Luckily for Raffles, who also had a great fall over the weekend, we didn’t rely on the assistance of equine medics and instead took our chances with the awesome nurses and doctors at RNSH, who not only had opposable thumbs but did a bang up job of putting my seriously concussed little man back together again. And happily, after one of the scariest days of my parenting life, he is now back to his cheeky food-obsessed self.

In fact, the first thing he did when we exited the hospital was ask me if we could make something new and different to eat.

Prepared, after our distressing day, to make him a Soufflé from the finest Piedmont truffles with a side of Maine Lobster sautéed in hundred-year-old Louis XIII cognac and topped with Beluga Caviar and edible gold, if he so desired, I asked him exactly what epicurean extravaganza he had in mind?

“Tea Eggs, mama! Like the ones you had in Taiwan!”

That’s it? Tea Eggs?

“Yep, because their heads are all cracked too!”

Seriously, could this delicious little man be any yummier? Cracking jokes after cracking his scone!

In Taiwan, it’s hard to escape the ubiquitous marbled eggs. Indeed, Tea Eggs (Cha ye dan), are so popular you’ll even find them they bobbing in a dark broth, nestled between the Hichew candies, chocolate bars and magazines at any of the literally thousands of 7 Elevens that litter the country.

Tea Eggs at 7 Eleven

The convenience stores, like the eggs, are inescapable. But unlike our 7 Elevens, they are much more than a snack and mag stop. You’ll not only find Tea Eggs, but hot treats like fish balls, pig’s blood cakes, dumplings and tofu, rocking the counter right next to the hot dogs.

Taiwan snacks at 7 Eleven

Jelly drinks sit alongside cans of coke and bags of dried seaweed and little fish alongside potato chips. They also do laundry. Gas bill due? Just head to 7 Eleven. And if you’ve copped a traffic fine, you can pay that there too. But I digress, back to the eggs.

Tea Eggs, unlike the also popular Thousand Year Eggs, are not and never have been made by being soaked in horse urine. No, these little babies are instead soaked in a tasty bath of tea, soy and spices. And the prettily marbled end product is delicious, the spiced bath adding a slightly salty tone to the white and the tea bringing out the flavour of the yolk.

Best of all they are so easy to make, my little wounded soldier can help me make them while he recovers from his head banging misadventure.

And I feel much better about him cracking some eggs instead of that lovely noggin’ of his.

The key, so I was told, to good Tea Eggs lies in the quality of the tea, even though it’s not the predominant flavour of the finished product. I’m using some lovely smoky Oolong tea leaves I picked up in Taipei. Mixed with the soy sauce and spices used for making tea eggs, it’s added a lovely depth of flavour to the finished eggs.

Tea Egg

Raffles and Sugarpuff are happily scoffing them, warm with a touch of soy sauce, as I type. In fact, Raffles likes them so much he’s just put in a request for me to make Thousand Year Eggs next. But that is never gonna happen, and anyway I’m all out of horse wee.


Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs (Cha ye dan)


6 eggs
3 cups water
2 tbsp of oolong tea leaves
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy
3 star anise
1 small stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon lightly cracked peppercorns
3 small strips of orange rind
1 pinch salt


  1. Place eggs in a saucepan with one teaspoon and cover with cold water. Bring to boil then reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes to make sure they are cooked through.
  2. Remove eggs from hot water and rinse under cold water.
  3. Using the back of a teaspoon tap the eggshell and crack all over. Do not remove shell.
  4. In a saucepan combine three cups of water with soy sauce, tea leaves and other dry ingredients and bring to boil.
  5. Lower heat and gently add cracked eggs and simmer for two to three hours.
  6. Serve immediately warm or leave the eggs in the mixture overnight for added colour and flavour.


19 Comments on Cracking up over Tea Eggs

  1. Shelley
    June 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm (11 years ago)

    Convenience stores in Seoul are also remarkably CONVENIENT. 😉 Glad to hear that Raffles is okay. That must’ve been so scary for you!

      June 29, 2013 at 8:40 am (11 years ago)

      Thanks Shelley. Was scary. But he’s all back to his non-broken self. I think Asia could teach teh world a thing or two about how a convenience store should work 🙂

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    June 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh I’m glad to hear that he is ok! And hehe how did I know that he’d want to cook straight away? You got a lovely cracked pattern on your eggs! 🙂

  3. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad)
    June 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm (11 years ago)

    Gosh glad your little one is OK – they sure like to give us Mum’s more grey hairs!!

    I have never heard of Tea-Eggs before, sure sounds yummy. And different – I so want to give this a go 🙂

      June 29, 2013 at 8:38 am (11 years ago)

      SO easy and the kids love joining in on the cracking. Not often they get told they can break something 🙂

  4. Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel
    June 27, 2013 at 8:01 am (11 years ago)

    Oh these look good… cracked eggs for a cracked head, perfect. So glad he wasn’t more seriously injured.

  5. Kim
    June 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm (11 years ago)

    Dear GOD – horribleness. So glad he’s back together again .I’ve spent plenty of time in the paeds ward at RNSH too – they really are fab there. How lovely is the fairy garden? (did you make it that far??)
    I am SO making those tea eggs. They’ll go down a treat around here.
    Exotic lunchbox, here we come! (And carb-free for the type 1 daughter – even better 😉

      June 29, 2013 at 8:36 am (11 years ago)

      RNSH staff are the best, Kim. They couldn’t have been more attentive and speedy with getting Raffles put back together again. It was a pretty serious concussion and they didn’t leave unattended by medical staff for even 30 seconds over the seven hours they had him in intensive care. Didn’t get to the Fairy Garden on this trip but with my two wild things I’m sure that there will be many more 🙂

  6. Claireyhewitt
    June 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm (11 years ago)

    These look a little odd to me – like a dinosaur might just pop out and eat me. But hey, if the kids eat them – YAYYYY

      June 29, 2013 at 8:31 am (11 years ago)

      How cool would that be? No kid could resist dinosaur eggs.:-)

  7. MrsD
    June 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm (11 years ago)

    I must be the most boring cook in the world next to you!! I bought all the ingredients to make these wonderful eggs and will keep you posted on how they turn out!! xx

  8. Have a laugh on me
    June 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh no I hope he on the mend, freaky stuff! My boy would love dinosaur egg, Em

  9. Heidi's Wanderings
    July 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm (11 years ago)

    I’ve never heard of these, but they sound really interesting. And they don’t sound that difficult to make. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Heidi’s Wanderings

  10. Cooker and a Looker
    July 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm (11 years ago)

    What is it with you and horses at the moment?!? Thanks for this – think the Big Sister and I will have fun making these.

      July 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm (11 years ago)

      Hehe. Not sure. Promise the next post will be entirely horse free! 😉 The Big sister will love making these… Raffles loved getting to smash up the shells. FIrst time he’s been told to break something instead of the other way round!

  11. Kelly
    February 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm (8 years ago)

    They look yum, but different. Your kid sounds quite adventurous in his eating 🙂


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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