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Chinese Tea Eggs, Two Ways

Chinese tea eggs are boiled eggs with a unique tea aroma and beautiful cracked design! This easy recipe results in flavorful eggs using either the instant pot or the stove. 

Chinese tea eggs instant pot, cha ye dan 2

Chinese tea eggs, also known as 茶葉蛋 (cha ye dan), are a spiced type of hard-boiled egg. This delicious snack which originated in Zhejiang is sold by street food vendors and convenience stores alike. The eggs have a salty, slightly herbal flavor that is perfect for any meal.

Tea stained eggs are traditionally boiled once, cracked, and then boiled a second time in the spiced tea liquid. The spiced tea liquid can include spices such as:

  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Bay Leaves
  • Tangerine peel
  • Cloves

Marinating the herbal tea eggs with cracked eggshell results in a beautiful spider-web-like design on the surface of the egg white. 

Leaving the eggshells on the eggs creates a barrier that makes it difficult for the eggs to absorb the tea liquid flavor. The second round of boiling is traditionally used to help force the tea flavor into and preserve the eggs. This is especially important for street food vendors. However, depending on the amount of boiling time, this procedure can lead to a grayish ring around the egg yolk and an overcooked egg white. 

To prevent the tea eggs from overcooking, they are “boiled” or pressure cooked once in an instant pot and then shocked in some cool water. Preparing tea eggs in the instant pot also reduces the need to make the marination liquid separately.

How to Make Chinese Tea Eggs (Instant Pot)

Boil the Eggs

Place all of the ingredients in a pressure cooker and add enough water to cover the eggs. Cook the eggs for four minutes before immediately releasing the pressure. Place the eggs in some cool tap water or ice water to prevent them from overcooking. 

Eggs Before Pressure Cooking

For a Stovetop Version

Making tea eggs on the stove can give you more control over what kind of egg you would like (soft, medium, or hard-boiled eggs). However, it does have an extra step of boiling the tea marinade separately. If you would like to make stovetop tea eggs, see the recipe card below for the instructions. 

Crack and Marinate the Chinese Tea Eggs

Once the eggs are cool, gently crack the entire surface of the eggshells with the back of a spoon. Place them into the marinade and store them ideally for one day before consuming them for the best flavor. 

Cracked Chinese tea eggs instant pot, cha ye dan

Note About Cracking the Egg Shells

If the eggshells are not sufficiently broken, the eggs will be unable to absorb much flavor! To ensure the eggshells are thoroughly cracked, you can also use your fingers to pinch the shells slightly to deepen the cracks. You can also try gently rolling the eggs on a countertop. 

Chinese tea eggs instant pot, cha ye dan 3

Tips

Tea flavor: The two most common types of tea used for tea eggs are red and black tea as they result in the best taste. However, you can use any type of tea. 

Loose Tea: You can use two tablespoons of loose tea in place of the two tea bags.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce is used primarily for making the tea liquid darker. This will result in a more pronounced staining effect. If you do not have dark soy sauce, you can simply substitute regular soy sauce in its place. 

Five-Spice: If you do not have all of the spices in the whole form, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder instead. 

Marinating: To shorten the time spent marinating, you can peel off the eggshell. While this step will prevent the eggs from getting a beautiful marbled effect, it will drastically reduce the marinating time.  

Chinese Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋)

Chinese tea eggs are boiled eggs with a unique tea aroma and beautiful cracked design! This easy recipe results in flavorful eggs using either the instant pot or the stove. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Inactive Time1 d
Total Time1 d 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: cha ye dan, Chinese tea eggs, tea eggs, tea eggs instant pot, tea stained egg
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 80kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 tea bags (red or black tea recommended)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce or substitute regular soy sauce (Note 2)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
  • 2 bay leaves optional

Simplified Version

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 tea bags (red or black tea recommended)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp five-spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

Instant Pot

  • Place all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the eggs.
  • Close the instant pot and seal. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes and manually release immediately after cooking.
  • Place the eggs in a large bowl of ice or cool tap water to stop them from cooking.
  • Gently crack the surface of each egg with the back of a spoon. Note 1
  • At this point, the marination liquid should be warm but not too hot. Place the cracked eggs back into the marinade and let the mixture cool completely to room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator. You can keep the spices and tea bags in the marinade as well.
  • Let the eggs marinate for at least 1 day for optimal flavor. Store any remaining eggs in the marinade to further absorb the flavors.
  • The eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Stovetop

  • Place all of the ingredients in a pot with about 4.5 cups of water. Cover and simmer the ingredients for around 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a separate large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the eggs and boil until your desired level of doneness (5:30 minutes for soft eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, 10 minutes for hard eggs).
  • After boiling, immediately transfer the eggs to a large bowl of ice or cool tap water to stop the cooking.
  • Gently crack the surface of each egg with the back of a spoon. Place the cracked eggs back into the marinade and store them in the refrigerator. You can keep the spices and tea bags in the marinade as well. Note 1
  • Let the eggs marinate for at least 1 day for optimal flavor. Store any remaining eggs in the marinade to further absorb the flavors.
  • The eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Notes

  1. To shorten the time spent marinating, you can peel off the eggshell. While this step will prevent the eggs from getting a beautiful marbled effect, it will drastically reduce the marinating time. 
  2. Dark soy sauce is used primarily for making the staining effect more pronounced. If you do not have dark soy sauce, you can simply substitute regular soy sauce in its place.

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