Hard-Cooked Tea Eggs Are the Snack Trend You Don't Want to Miss

Upgrade your afternoon snack game with these trendy hard-cooked eggs marinated in a tea solution for an irresistibly savory flavor and fun crackly appearance.

If you are fond of enjoying a hard-cooked egg as an afternoon snack, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite variation: tea eggs. A household staple in Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Malaysia, tea eggs are gaining popularity here in the states. These little flavor bombs are tinted with a brownish marinade (often appearing through unique cracks in the whites due to cracking the shell first) that starts with soy sauce, tea, and spices. Whether you've tried a tea egg or not, you can easily start making the tasty snack at home with just a handful of ingredients.

marinated tea eggs on black plate
Katlyn Moncada

What Is a Tea Egg?

Tea eggs are hard-cooked eggs marinated in a savory liquid infused with tea and spices. The eggshells are usually cracked before marinating, resulting in the signature crackly appearance. Originating in China, tea eggs are commonly sold by street vendors or restaurants and enjoyed as a snack. As for the taste, tea eggs have the same texture as a hard-cooked egg, only with a salty, lightly spiced flavor. If you've had a marinated ramen egg before, the flavor is similar, but the black tea adds a unique earthiness.

How to Make Tea Eggs

Depending on the country and region you're enjoying tea eggs, the flavor can vary slightly due to the different ratios of the basic tea egg ingredients: black tea, soy sauce, and spices. Feel free to experiment with your own ratios. In my research for a basic, traditional tea egg recipe, here's the easy process to follow:

Step 1: Boil Eggs

Start by making a batch of hard-cooked eggs using your favorite method (our Test Kitchen's go-to is steaming). Tea eggs are usually enjoyed hard-cooked, but you can also make them medium for a softer yolk if you like.

Step 2: Crack the Shells

Quickly cool the eggs in ice water or cool running tap water. Tap the eggs with the back of a metal spoon on all sides while leaving the shell intact. Try to be gentle enough some or all of the shell comes off, it's totally fine—you'll just end up with a slightly darker tea egg.

Step 3: Make the Tea Egg Marinade

In a saucepan, bring water, soy sauce (I used a combination of light and dark soy sauces), black tea bags or leaves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn, and bay leaf to a boil. A five-spice blend can be used in place of the whole spices. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

How much tea egg marinade you need to make depends on how many eggs you want—just ensure there's enough liquid to cover the eggs entirely.

Step 4: Steep Tea Eggs

In a storage container or bag (I used a reusable silicone bag), completely cover the cracked eggs with the liquid and soak for at least 24 hours or up to four days in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, peel and enjoy the crackly tea egg appearance before diving in. Tea eggs are great cold or at room temperature.

There are also methods that you can gently simmer the cracked, hard-cooked eggs in the pot for 2 to 3 hours before cooling and steeping for about 8 hours. This allows you to eat the tea eggs sooner and can result in deeper color and flavor.

Smoky Tea Deviled Eggs
Carson Downing

Type of Tea to Use

Any type of black tea will work great for making tea eggs. You can find authentic Chinese black tea at your local Asian market or go with whatever black tea is in your pantry. For a smoky flavor, opt for Lapsang souchong tea, which we used in our fun tea egg deviled eggs (pictured above).

How Long Do Tea Eggs Last?

Storing the shell-on tea eggs in the marinating liquid will last up to one week. If you eat the tea eggs fast, you can reuse the liquid and add more hard-cooked eggs to the mixture to make another batch.

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