This is one of the cooler dishes I’ve ever made. I’d heard about Chinese tea eggs before, but had never made them. Then I found myself working with madrone bark, which peels off in cinnamon-like curls every summer. The Indians here in California used madrone bark tea medicinally, and I’ve been experimenting with the concoction, which tastes like a combination of cinnamon, mushrooms, woodsmoke — and something I can’t quite pin down.
The result is a warm and lovely hard-boiled egg that, if you crack the egg after an initial boil, will be covered in a latticework of madrone tea marks. It is beautiful; looks like a spiderweb.
Once cooked, these tea eggs will last in the fridge for 10 days, but they are best within three days.
Make a lot of them — they’re great snacks.
Makes 12 eggs
- 1 dozen eggs
- 6 cups madrone tea (see below)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 star anise
- zest of a lemon
- 10 crushed juniper berries
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- To make the madrone bark tea, bring 6-7 cups of water to a boil, then add 15-25 madrone bark curls. Cover and turn off the heat. Let steep overnight. This tea lasts a long time in the fridge, so you can make it ahead of time.
- Boil the eggs in plain water to start. Put the eggs in a pot, cover with cool water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat. When the water is cool enough to touch, pull the eggs out and submerge in cold water.
- Meanwhile add all the remaining ingredients into a large pot and bring to a simmer.
- Take each egg and crack the shell gently all around the egg. You want it to stay intact, but be covered in tiny cracks.
- Place the eggs in the madrone tea and simmer for 2-3 hours. Turn off the heat, cover and steep overnight.
- Eat cold or at room temperature.