MAKES 6 EGGS
A great any-time snack, tea eggs can be found at night markets, convenience stores, and even gas stations all across Asia. You’ll usually find them kept hot in an electric pot near the cash register at 7-Elevens from Taipei to Tokyo—right next to the displays of Kit Kats, cigarettes, and whiskey. It’s the Asian version of the hard-boiled eggs that Parisians grab at Metro stations and café bars, but instead of salt and pepper, these eggs are flavored with smoky tea and the savory goodness of soy sauce, star anise, and orange peel.
6 large eggs
¼ cup dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon black tea leaves (smoky teas, like Lapsang Souchong, are best)
4 star anise pods
3 strips fresh orange peel
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Place the eggs in a saucepan that is large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add enough water to cover the eggs by an inch, bring it to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes, just to lightly set the egg whites.
Drain the eggs and rinse them under cold running water. Gently tap each egg on the countertop, rolling it carefully to lightly crack the surface without breaking it open.
Return the cracked eggs to the pot and just cover them with fresh water. Add the soy sauce, tea leaves, star anise, orange peel, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to just a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer the eggs for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the eggs cool in the cooking liquid. Then put the pot in the refrigerator and let them steep overnight. Peel when ready to eat or refrigerate for up to a week.