Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs {Recipe}

I’m not sure where I first saw marbled tea eggs, but I’ve wanted to try them for some time. The opportunity finally presented itself just before Easter. I bought 3 dozen eggs for the kids to color (hey, they were on sale for $1.19/dozen). I boiled all the eggs, but the girls started to lose interest around the second dozen. And that’s when I decided to commandeer about a half dozen eggs and try making tea eggs.

As dramatic and, yes, delicious as these eggs are, they are really easy to make. Having already hard-boiled the eggs, it was just a matter of cracking the shells and then simmering the eggs in a spice-tea mixture for a few hours.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs


  • 6 eggs
  • 2 bags strong, clean-flavored black tea
  • 1/2 cup ponzu sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns


  1. Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil, then turn off burner. Cover the pan and let sit for 7 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan, but don’t dump the water. Allow eggs to cool.
  2. When eggs are cool enough to handle, crack the shells without removing, using the back of a spoon or flat edge of a table knife. Try to get as many small cracks as possible.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the water in the saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Return eggs to the pan and add water to cover eggs by at least 2 inches.
  4. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat and simmer eggs for 2-3 hours. The longer they cook, the darker the marbling and stronger the flavor. Add water as needed during cooking to keep eggs fully submerged.
  5. Refrigerate unpeeled eggs in cooking liquid in glass or ceramic container.

Note: If you don’t have ponzu available to you, substitute an equal amount of soy sauce and the zest of 1 lime.

These eggs are as delicious as they are visually stunning. The ponzu and spices give them a great citrusy, spicy, slightly salty flavor. And the tea lends to both the color and taste.

You can serve these eggs warm, cold, or at room temperature; plain, with a little salt, ponzu, or soy sauce; by themselves or cut up and served on rice or noodles. You could even make deviled eggs with them, or slice them in half and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and caviar. The possibilities are almost endless. But, to tell the truth, my favorite way to eat them is with the barest sprinkle of salt.

Now that I’ve finally tried tea eggs, I want to make them again with different spices. Maybe next time I’ll leave out the star anise and add some whole cloves and allspice. Or perhaps Chinese 5-spice powder. One thing’s for sure: I’m not waiting until next Easter to make more of these beauties.