Cold-Steeped Oolong Tea Eggs

Whether you like your eggs soft, medium, or hard-boiled, this recipe will infuse them with the addictive flavor of oolong.

As a self-proclaimed tea nut, I have a love-hate relationship with tea eggs. Traditionally, the eggs are hard-boiled, gently cracked all over, and simmered in a broth of black tea, soy sauce, and spices, which produces a pretty marbled pattern. That long simmer infuses the eggs with wonderful flavor, but it also comes with a downside: hard, rubbery whites and crumbly, green-tinged yolks. Blech.

When I had first my ramen egg, it was a revelation. All that flavor, with a beautiful melty yolk! It was only a matter of time before I decided to apply the same treatment to tea eggs. By cold-steeping the eggs, you can cook them to your desired level of doneness. They’re great soft-boiled, of course, but if you’re looking to make tea egg salad (my initial inspiration for this dish), a medium or hard boil will do nicely. To maximize the flavor infusion, I skipped the traditional marbling, but I’ve included instructions for both options.

Another fun part of making tea eggs at home is that you can change up the tea and spices. I love the smooth flavor that Dong Ding oolong lends to this tea, but don’t hesitate to experiment a bit here. You can go with a classic black tea, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a lapsang souchong for some smokiness. Follow your taste buds, and let me know what your favorite combinations are!



4 eggs

Total Time

7 hours

Active Time

1 hour

Tea eggs

(adapted from Get Cracking)

  1. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover your eggs and bring it to a boil. Gently add the eggs, being careful not to crack the shells. 
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and set a timer for your desired level of doneness: 6 minutes for soft-boiled, 8 for medium, and 11 for hard. As soon as the timer rings, use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the eggs to the ice bath. 
  3. While the eggs are cooling, empty and rinse out the saucepan. Return the pan to the stove and add the water, soy sauce, oolong, star anise, salt, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, then allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Strain the tea mixture into a medium-sized tupperware or ziploc bag nestled in a bowl. If you’d like to create the traditional marbled pattern, crack the shells of the eggs all over with the back of a spoon (no need to go too crazy here–not breaking the eggs is priority #1!). Otherwise, simply peel the eggs under cool running water.
  5. Transfer the eggs to the tea mixture and cold-steep for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days, turning the eggs occasionally with a spoon to ensure even coloration.

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