Cheap Eats at Bloglander

5/25/10 | Tea Eggs

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Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I am an egg paranoiac.

I admit it. Yes, you may have seen one of those obsessive-compulsive, sweatpants-clad egg fondlers at the market just a few weeks ago.

That was ME fondling your eggs Mr. Stater Brother.

I open up a box of eggs and then set them up on the shelf to check and see if they’ve slipped any fake candy eggs in the box. These things happen sometimes at the egg factory, especially around Easter time.

I smell the eggs for any hints of radioactivity. I rub them for good luck. Then I place them, lengthwise between the 2nd back molars on the right side of my mouth and tilt my head toward the light to see if any pictures of Spock are transmitted into my brain. (Walter Bishop told me to do that, you know, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure…)

Then I roll them across the floor to make sure the yolk distribution is correct.

The trajectory on the floor must inscribe a certain parabolic arc, and if it does not, then I put them back in their container and start all over again with another box. You see, you must never, ever mix up the eggs that come in a box. They are meant to be together and CANNOT be separated.

If they are separated, an immediate high frequency coded signal will begin to be transmitted from a hidden circuitboard embedded at the base of each cardboard box of eggs. This will contact a base station at the factory and immediately alert the chickens to which these eggs belong. The chickens will then start to run around clucking as if their heads were cut off.

The factory manager, noting the obvious egg space-time continuum disturbance, will then send out sleek Lincoln towncars filled with men in black to the supermarket where the signal has come from.

They will be instructed to apprehend any bad eggs.


The above scenario, while not exactly true, is not exactly false. I do check my eggs before buying, because I’ve gotten some cracked ones before. It’s good idea to at least open the box, hidden microchip circuitboard or not.

Recently, we came into an overabundance of eggs due to the perfect storm of an egg fire sale at the market and a shopping list gone awry. I was just going to boil ‘em up and make an enormous egg salad sandwich the size of an alligator. But then I decided to try out a recipe for a type of egg that I’ve never made before. These are tea eggs.

I’ve been a tea egger (a consumer of tea eggs) for awhile now.

No, not a tea bagger. A tea EGGER.

These tea eggs are pretty much just boiled eggs that have been infused with various spices. While most recipes I’ve seen call for particular separate spices, I think there’s actually a packet of stuff that you can buy at specialty markets to make tea eggs – something similar to a “five spice” taste. I decided to make it from scratch because we happened to have the star anise and the cinnamon in the pantry.

Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

One of the coolest thing about the tea eggs is the spiderweb lines that appear on the surface. This comes about because you crack the eggs lightly after boiling and then put them into a liquid mixture. The area where the cracks are gets darker, resulting in the lines.

This can be really cool if you take a few eggs to lunch and tell your unsuspecting (soon to be ex) friends “Did I ever tell you about the alien chicken at home that lays eggs? Here’s proof…”

Guys: This is also a great conversation piece at bars. You accost a pretty girl, whip one of these bad boys out, and say “Hey baby – let me peel my egg for you.” You can also follow this with: “Now imagine what the rest of me looks like!”

Well, without further ado, and with much trepidation, here is a recipe of sorts:

Tea Eggs

6 eggs — $1.00
2 tbsp loose tea (or 2 tea bags) — $0.25
1/2 cup soy sauce — $0.50
2 tsp sugar — $0.05
3-4 star anise pods — $0.25
1 cinnamon stick — $0.10
1 tsp pepper — negligible
optional salt — negligible

Total: $2.15

You get a pot. You fill it with water. Then you lay your eggs. (Dang. I’ve been trying to use a nice pun about laying eggs in this post, but it just never worked its way in.)

Boil the summabitch. Well, get it up to boil anyhow. Then turn the heat off, and put the lid on. Let it sit for 12-15 min. I don’t know if this is really necessary for this recipe, but this is how we usually make nice boiled eggs that don’t have a powdery center. Thanks Martha Farking Stewart…

Take the eggs out with a spoon or whatever, and put ‘em in a bowl. Run cold water on it if you don’t want to burn off your fingerprints. Then lightly crack the eggs. I just cracked them on the sink, but I heard sometimes it’s better if you whack ‘em with a butter knife or heavy spoon. Whatever. You just need to make sure they’re cracked enough so the flavor can enter the eggs.

Put ‘em back in the water in the pot. You can use new water if you want. Add tea, soy sauce, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and pepper. You might need to add some salt. Or, you could just add more soy sauce.

Get the thing up to boil again, then reduce the heat to low and simmer it for 2 hours or more. I think it depends how strong you want the flavor. During the cooking process, you might need to chuck some more water in there. To make sure you don’t end up a dry pot with exploding eggs, and trust me I have done that on occasion while boiling eggs.

When done, let the eggs cool, crack ‘em and eat. You can fridge them for a few days at least too.

Tea Eggs - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

You can increase or decrease the amount of spices to taste. The batch I made for the first time didn’t seem to have enough flavor, so I returned the eggs to the pot and cooked for another hour or so. They tasted better after that. I didn’t add salt, but many recipes I’ve seen call for both soy sauce and salt. You should play around with the proportions.

I still have hesitations about posting these 3 dollar and under recipes. I know they’re a lot of fun for people and very popular, but I sometimes feel like I’ve gotten myself backed into a corner with them. It’s really hard to come up with recipes for $3 or less, because I haven’t adjusted for inflation. Or for people who write in complaining that I don’t know the price of [insert food item].

It’s also harder for keep the comedy going with recipes like this because I feel the need to actually write something of use to people.

In any case, that doesn’t matter because I’m going away.

Yesterday, I went to Fresh & Easy and randomly swapped out 5013 eggs between boxes while the workers weren’t looking.

The men in the Lincoln towncars are coming.

They’re coming to take me away, HO HO HEE HEE HA HA to the funny farm.

Where life is beautiful all the time.

[Editor's Note: If you didn't understand that, then you should probably listen to this song. Also, you are probably why I didn't make the obvious joke about how tasty my "star anise" is in this post. I thought it was too easy, and I don't want to offend all the star anise fans out there.]

4 Responses to “Tea Eggs”

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  1. Cody Says:

    Probably hard to explain, but what do they taste like.

  2. Peggasus Says:

    They sure are pretty, but don’t they get kind of…rubbery…simmering them for another two hours? Are they very strong tasting? (It seems like they would be.) Would they be served on their own or as a component with something else? Thanks!

  3. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    @cody – they taste like hard boiled eggs with a soy sauce flavor, and a sort of 5-spice taste if you’re familiar w/ that. I’ve had ‘em extremely light tasting and super heavy tasting, it all depends.

    @peggasus – they actually don’t get that much more rubbery, but I guess it won’t taste like normal boiled eggs. The ones I’ve had were pretty light, but others make them very salty. Lot of people I know eat slice them into quarters and eat them with Sriracha (hot sauce). But you can just eat them plain too. I wouldn’t make these if you don’t like star anise / cinnamon taste, or 5-spice flavor.

  4. TheWarden Says:

    These manage to look both gross and awesome at the same time.

    Your egg habits remind me of a scene in Clerks.

    But interesting, nonetheless. Never heard of these.



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