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Chinese Tea Eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs are an easy to prepare snack. Boil the eggs and simmer overnight in a savory marinade of tea and soy sauce. Eat and enjoy!

Chinese tea eggs on a plate, ready to eat
Chinese tea eggs, peeled and ready to eat

Have you had Chinese Tea Eggs before? These eggs also go by a few other names:

  • Tea Eggs
  • Marbled Eggs
  • Marbled Tea Eggs

The eggs are boiled and marinated overnight in a mixture black tea, soy sauce, and spices.

Everyone has their own mix and proportion of preferred spices. Our recipe uses cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, and cloves.

The eggs are enjoyed most often as a snack (I love them for breakfast and a simple afternoon treat). They also work as part of a larger great with a big bowl of rice and Shoyu Chicken!

Gently cracking the shells of the boiled eggs before marinating
Cracking the shells of the boiled eggs

To Marble Or Not?

Ahh the big question! The photos in this recipe show marbled eggs. To "marble" the egg, all you have to do is take a spoon and gently tap all over the boiled egg shell so that the shell cracks a little.

You still want the shells to be attached to the boiled egg, and just cracked throughout the exterior. The marinating liquid seeps into the cracks which gives it that marbled look.

If you're a very good marble-r, you'll get even cracks all around. I'm still working on my marbling technique which explains why some eggs look more marbled than the others ^_^

This step is optional and very much an aesthetic thing. It also explains the name "marbled tea eggs." You can also opt to peel off the shells entirely and marinate the eggs without the shells (like we do for Soy Sauce Eggs).

Spices for Chinese tea eggs. Clockwise from top: bay leaves, cloves, black tea, star anise, and cinnamon stick)
Spices for the marinade. Clockwise from top: bay leaves, cloves, black tea, star anise, and cinnamon stick.


You'll need one main ingredient:

  • Eggs

And six ingredients for the marinade:


Ok here's how to do it!

First make the marinade. Combine soy sauce, black tea, cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, and water in a pot. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Then remove from heat and let the marinade cool to room temperature. (Make sure it's at room temperature before marinating the eggs otherwise the heat of the marinade will continue to cook the already boiled eggs.)

Now it's time to boil the eggs. Boil, drain, and place the eggs in an ice bath (basically a bowl of water and ice to stop the cooking). Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, crack the shells for the marbled look, or peel the shells off entirely.

Pour the cool marinade into a container and place the eggs in there. Make sure there's enough marinade to cover the eggs (add a bit more water to the marinade if there isn't).

Cover and marinate in the fridge for 24-48 hours (depending on how strong you want the flavor). I marinate on the longer side if I cracked the shells, and on the shorter side if I peeled off the shells entirely.

Then it's ready to eat ^_^

Gently cracking the shells of the boiled eggs before marinating
Boiled and cracked, ready for the marinade

Neat Shortcut

If you're missing some spices or just don't want to buy four types of spices for this recipe, one shortcut you can do is to replace all the spices with Chinese Five Spice Powder. Yes! It's something I do in a pinch.

For the recipe at the bottom of this post, replace all the spices (cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, and cloves) with 1 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder. Follow the same cooking and marinating time. The final result will be not as strongly infused with all the spice flavors, but it is still very delicious.

We use Chinese Five Spice Powder in other recipes so it's good to just keep in your pantry.

Chinese tea eggs on a plate, ready to eat
Chinese Tea Eggs, peeled and ready to eat


How long do these eggs keep?

The marinated eggs keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Regarding the boiling time...

Like we noted in the Soy Sauce Eggs recipe, boil closer to 7 minutes for a firmer yolk and closer to 6 minutes for a softer yolk.

I usually eat Chinese Tea Eggs as a standalone snack, so I prefer to boil them at the 7 minute mark. I eat the Soy Sauce Eggs as part of a larger hot dish (like with rice for breakfast or in a bowl of saimin or ramen), so I cook those eggs closer to the 6 minute mark.

Do you eat these eggs hot/room temperature or cold?

Both ways are onolicious!

For a breakfast on the go, I'll place two eggs out on the counter while I get ready. And then I'll eat them slightly cool (but not refrigerator cold) with a hot cup of tea. Makes a nice and satisfying breakfast.

If you're serving the eggs as part of a hot dish (like noodles or rice), just remove the eggs from the fridge 30 minutes before putting them in the dish. The heat of the dish will also help bring the eggs up to a warmer temperature.

No caffeine?

Use decaffeinated black tea.

Other spices to add?

The spice and marinade mix can be adjusted to personal preference. Sometimes I add a few slices of ginger or even Sichuan peppercorns. For a little sweetness, add a spoonful of sugar.

Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Chinese tea eggs on a plate, ready to eat

Chinese Tea Eggs

Yield: 6 eggs


  1. Make the marinade. In a small pot, combine all the ingredients (except for the eggs) along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the liquid in a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Boil the eggs. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in the eggs and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain immediately and place the eggs in an ice bath (basically a big bowl of water with ice cubes)
  4. Once the eggs are cooled, use one hand to hold the egg and use your other hand to gently crack the shell with the back of a spoon. Repeat for each egg.
  5. Add the cracked eggs to the bowl with the marinade. Make sure there's enough liquid to cover all the eggs (add a little water if needed). Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours (and up to 48 hours).
  6. To eat: remove the egg from the marinade. Peel off the shell and eat!. You can eat the eggs cold, room temperature, or warm them back up. Eat them plain as a snack (I sprinkle a little salt and pepper) or as part of a meal (like in noodle soups, or with a rice and meat dish ^_^
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