Chinese tea-eggs

Very decorative and delicate in taste

This is a very special way to serve hardboiled eggs. You prepare them in advance, all you need to do is peel them before serving them. The result is beautiful marbled eggs with the subtle taste of spices. Do not be put off by the long boiling time, the eggs really will be fit for consumption!
The recipe is for 1 egg per person, if you boil more than 8 eggs at a time, double the amounts for the cooking liquid; preparation in advance 6 minutes; preparation 90 minutes plus 12 hours to marinate.

Chinese tea-eggs.Ingredients
As many eggs as you have eaters
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (Japanese, not the thick soy sauce)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 whole star anise (Chinese anise), broken in pieces
2 Tbsp. black Chinese tea (p.e. Oolong)
1 stick of cinnamon, broken in two
1 small piece of dried mandarin peel (Chinese foodstores)

Preparation in advance
Do not use any new laid eggs, for these are very hard to peel. The eggs you want to use must have been turned regularly during storage, for the yolk to be in the centre of the egg. Boil the eggs for six to eight minutes with some salt added to the water (I always start with the eggs in cold water, and start counting when the water boils). Rinse them under cold water and let them cool.

Preparation
Take one egg in the palm of your hand, and carefully tap on it with the convex side of a spoon until the shell is covered with fine cracks. Put the eggs in a pan in which all the eggs fit snugly. Add spices, tea leaves and soy sauce. Add enough water to cover the eggs. Bring to the boil, stir occasionally until the tea leaves stop floating on the surface. Cover and let it simmer on a very low fire for about two hours. Then take the pan off the fire, and let it stand for at least twelve hours (up to 36 hours) at room temperature.

To serve
Do not peel the eggs until just before serving. With each egg it will be a surprise how it has turned out. Some will be marbled all over, others have large brown spots with darker marbling (here the shell was cracked a bit too much). But, however they will look, the taste will be great!

Ingredients
All descriptions of ingredients

Anise and aniseed - The flavour of anise is much appreciated all over the world. Aniseed is indigenous in the Middle-East, and was used around the Mediterranean at least from the fourth century bC. The seed is from an annual plant called Pimpinella anisum. The distinctive sweet taste comes from anethole, an essential oil. In China grows Illicium verum, a small evergreen tree related to magnolia. Its dried, star-shaped fruit are also rich in anethole. See Fennel.
Soy sauce - There are many kinds of soy sauce. It is made from fermented soy beans and wheat flour, and salt. In the Netherlands Indonesian ketjap is the best known soy sauce (a thick and sweet soy sauce). Worldwide Chinese and Japanese soy sauce are widely used. Chinese soy sauce is thick and salty, Japanese soy sauce is thin and salty (yes, soy sauce is salty) and can be either dark or light (although it is rather dark too). There is a great variety in quality, you'll have to find out which brand and variety you lie best for yourself.
You can't interchange Japanese and Chinese soy sauce. For a Japanese dish, use Japanese soy sauce, and for a Chinese dish, use Chinese soy sauce, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Bibliography
The editions below are in my possession. Links refer to available editions.
All books mentioned on this site (with short reviews)