This past Lunar New Year was, for me, one of my least festive and most lonely. Without my family or any Asian-minded friends around me in Colorado, there was little to do in way of celebration but hang around in my apartment doing homework, wishing there was a parade I could go to or a feast I could attend instead. The only thing I could think of that would be a little out of the ordinary and manageable for a single girl in the kitchen was to make a batch of tea eggs.
There's no reason for tea eggs to be a special occasion recipe, however—the process is dead easy and the ingredient list is simple. I tried to follow Jaden's directions over at Steamy Kitchen, but because I had to leave out the cinnamon stick and star anise (I still haven't stocked my spice rack), in the end I only had black tea, soy sauce, and sugar in my brew. The flavor was different but still good.
After hard-boiling the eggs, lightly cracking their shells with a heavy spoon, simmering them in the tea and soy sauce for two hours, and letting them steep overnight, this is how they looked. More than anything else, I love the beautiful pattern that appears all over the egg once you peel them. Like stained glass, or a drunken spiderweb of sorts, no? Considering these were marinated for so long, they are actually a bit pale—I could have cracked the shells harder to let more of the tea and soy sauce seep in.
Looks aside, the paleness also meant they were bland, so later I peeled all of the remaining eggs and plopped them directly into the tea marinade. After bringing the mixture to a boil, I let them simmer for another hour before taking them off the heat.
It's funny, but Jen at Use Real Butter just wrote a post about eating soy sauce eggs as a kid, which I totally identified with…as a kid I too was ridiculed about the shade of my lunch egg, and found it terribly humiliating when my oddly hued specimen was greeted with a chorus of ewwwws. After the first time, I stopped eating them in public. But you can see how little I care now; I let these eggs become a deep, warm brown. Without their shells hindering the absorption of the tea and soy sauce, their flavor increased by leaps and bounds. Next to dumplings, half a pomelo, and some stir-fried chicken and napa cabbage, these soy/tea eggs were the perfect thing for my solo Lunar New Year's meal.