"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tea Eggs and Silver Tips Tea Room

Tea eggs are tasty, healthy snacks sold everywhere in Taiwan - i.e. street corners, food stands and bus terminals. Indeed, these eggs are so popular that when 7-Eleven,* despite its commitment to tight quality control and uniformity, moved into Taiwan as a part of the world domination scheme, had to relent its reign and allow them to be served in the stores.. Why was this a problem for 7-Eleven? Because they would be stewing away right there next to the cash registers and, yes, permeating the entire store with its smoky, spicy eggy smell.

*By 7-Eleven, I do not mean those pathetic stores attached to gas stations, but the "konbini" (for convenience stores) in Japan. You can find out about the history of the company on Wikipedia. Some new konbini type of stores have appeared in New York City; however, they are no where close to the real thing in Japan. What is so great about konbini?: 1) All kinds of things are available at konbini - food, produce, dessert, drinks, books, magazines, underwear, vitamins, comic books, copying, printing, rock concert tickets, mail-order roast chicken, lunch boxes (so on and so forth and sigh...); 2) they are open 24 hours - just in case you get an urge for a late-night shopping spree; 3) they are just so, well, convenient; 4) the prepared food (bread, sandwiches and rice balls) are, in fact, quite delicious! As a matter of fact, can I please go find one now?

Back to the eggs: These are perfect snacks - no sugar, lots of protein, lots of flavor, all natural (and organic if you use organic stuff), low-carb (not that I care that much) and, last but not least, delicious! What more do you want for a snack? I know they are not picturesque: appearance is not everything!


  • Eggs
  • Tea bags: How many? I would say 1 bag per 2, 3 eggs. (I know I usually do not like to give out how much you actually need for each ingredients because a) it depends on what you have got - you can modify, and should modify, the "recipe" according to the size, quality and your taste (that is why I call these "Culinary Creations" instead of recipes) and b) you should be able to figure this out if you know how to cook (if you don't, I cannot help you...).) There is absolutely no need to go fancy; the Lipton tea bags which came free with my New Year's purchase at a Chinese grocery store did just fine)
  • Star anise
  • Salt - a lot (as much as you add when you boil pasta)
  • Whole red pepper - optional

  1. Put eggs into a pot and cover with water.

  2. Add tea bags, star anise and red peppers. Adding enough tea bags and salt into the water is the key, the only key for the tea eggs. We are not just making boiled eggs, you know.

  3. Turn up the heat to cook the eggs at about medium heat for 20 minutes. Then use what you fancy to crack the eggs. Now, it is important to crack them, not to break down. You need to stew these eggs so the flavor of tea will seep in; thus, you need the cracks, but not so big and falling apart so that your eggs will just be too salty. Added bonus to cracking is - you get a nice marble look (see below!) on the eggs. (Yes, I said there was only one key, but maybe this is another key.)
  4. Slow-cooked them for as long as you like (if your heat is not working well in the winter, you just put it on really low heat and you can just let it simmer for hours and warm your kitchen at the same time). If you do not have that much time, put it on medium heat for 20 minutes or so, then lower the heat and let it simmer for half an hour. Then do whatever you need to do and leave the eggs in the liquid for about 8 hours or overnight.

  5. Let it cool off a bit or just gobble it up!

If you have made too many and got tired of eating them the way they are, just make them into egg salad. However, I am afraid to say, you will never eat regular egg salad again because these tea eggs add such a wonderful complexity to simple egg salad - smoky!

Silver Tips Tea Room, Tarrytown, NY

I must give credits to Silver Tips Tea Room in Tarrytown, NY. I would not have thought of making these tea eggs into egg salad sandwiches if not for them. Silver Tips is one of the few places in the United States of American which does a decent pot of tea (except, the quality of milk can be better...but what can you do in a land of growth hormones?) Do not get their scones - they are not scones, but biscuits. I do not care very much for their desserts, either. Yes, yes, yes, I am writing to commend them, not to disparage them (but I have to be honest, right?). Their sandwiches are good, and particularly, the Egg Souchong sandwich is quite inventive and delicious (the menu says "smoked tea" and other things, but I am sure they mean these tea eggs). Stop by on your way to the Rockefeller estate.

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