Eggs are boring. Here’s how to charm them up with marbling

Society & Culture

This weekly food column is done in collaboration with the Beijing-based project and event company The Hutong.

Recipe No. 6 (see No. 1No. 2No. 3No. 4, No. 5)

Tea Egg

茶叶蛋 cháyè dàn

The tea egg, originating in Zhejiang Province, is a common snack food that is easily made and found everywhere. It is sometimes called the “marble egg” because of the marble-like patterns created by cracks in the eggshell.


  • 6 medium or large eggs
  • 2 tbsp tea leaves (black tea, Pu’er tea, or jasmine tea; if you do not have loose tea leaves, you can use a teabag as a substitution)
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 pieces star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn/ white peppercorn
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2-3 strips of dried mandarin peel (optional)


Put eggs in a medium-sized pot with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring water to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 3 minutes.

Remove eggs from heat and allow them to cool a bit before handling (running them under cold water does the trick quickly.)

Take the back of a knife or spoon and crack the eggs evenly all around.

Return the eggs to the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring the liquid to boil again, then simmer for 1 to 3 hours, or longer for a more intense flavor and color, adding water if the level gets too low.

Remove from heat and serve.