If you read my recent Refrigerator Confidential post you probably noticed the rather large stash of eggs that is in my garage refrigerator. My neighbor and I share the work and rewards of a small flock of hens. I let the eggs accumulate at this time of year because the girls really slow down the egg production when the days get shorter since we do not use supplemental light in the hen house. Even so, we have to consume a fair number of eggs to keep the stash from getting too large and it does get to be a bit of a challenge to come up with new and interesting ways to prepare them. My husband is not yet tired of the weekly frittatas, his favorite lunch item these days. And I often find myself preparing a couple of eggs over-easy to accompany leftover vegetables for either breakfast or lunch. I usually have a few hard cook eggs in the fridge, ready to grab for a quick snack or to take on a hike. I occasionally make cheese souffles. And now I have a new favorite way to prepare eggs - Tea Cooked Eggs. These take some time to prepare, but once done they keep for a long time so I've been cooking up a potful every couple of weeks.
There are any number of recipes for preparing eggs this way, seasonings and cooking times vary from recipe to recipe, but they all involve cooking eggs slowly in a mixture of black tea, soy sauce, and spices. The whole eggs are first partially cooked in plain water, then gently cracked all over, then immersed in the tea mixture and cooked further, and finally left to cool and steep in the tea mixture. The result is a beautiful marbled egg infused with the flavor of the tea and spices. They are prettiest served whole, the long cooking turns the edges of the yolks greenish, but they don't develop the funky flavor of an over boiled egg.
Here's my version of:
Tea Cooked Eggs
6 to 8 large eggs
1 1/2 tbs dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs regular soy sauce or use all regular soy sauce
2 whole star anise, broken into segments
1/2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs loose china black tea (such as Lion Mountain Keemun)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups water
Put the eggs in a pot just large enough to hold them without crowding. Add cold water to cover them by an inch. Bring the water to a near boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer the eggs for 6 minutes. Drain the pot and add cold water to fill the pot, let the eggs cool for a minute or two and drain the pot again. Gently tap the eggs all over to create a fine network of cracks. Return the eggs to the empty pot.
Combine the rest of the ingredients and add them to the pot. Bring the mixture to a near boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting, partially cover the pan and simmer the eggs for 1 1/2 hours, turn the eggs occasionally.
The eggs can be served warm right away, or cool them in the braising mixture and refrigerate them in the liquid for up to a day and a half. Drain the eggs and keep the shells on to store them longer in the refrigerator.