David's Recipe for Spider Web Eggs

Most Chinese cookbooks call these tea eggs, but my children keep telling me that the patterns remind them of spider webs. Can also be served as an entremet between larger courses of a Chinese meal.

Appetizer, Chinese

  • 16 eggs
  • 3 tbsp black tea
  • 2 stars of star anise, or 1 tsp regular anise or fennel seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 qts boiling water
  1. Hard boil the eggs by washing them, then boiling in the water for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggs from the water and let them cool until they are cool enough to handle. Don't throw out the boiling water. You can run tap water over the eggs to make them cool faster.
  3. Hit each egg sharply with the back of a soup spoon in a few places.
  4. Place the eggs, the tea, and the anise in the water and simmer for an hour. Check every once in a while to make sure that the eggs are still completely submerged. If not, add boiling water.
  5. Turn off the heat, and let the eggs stand until ready to serve, from a few minutes to all night. Peel and serve.
  6. For more festive serving: Use a spoon to decorate half of the eggs, as above, and remove the shells completely from the other half before cooking in the tea. You will then get half of the eggs with a marble pattern, as above, and half will be brown. The the surface of the brown ones will have a less delicate texture. Make a pile of the two kinds of eggs on a platter.

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