Chinese tea eggs

Photographer: Emma
Makes 5 eggs

At 6am in the morning in the month of May here at the bottom of the world it is pitch black.  And cold.  Our houses aren’t built for winter and as I lay in bed contemplating the day before me, great billows of condensed air form in the darkness around me.  When finally I muster the courage to peel back the sheets, I dress at great speed in an attempt to keep out the cold.  I then tip-toe down the hallway to the kitchen, gratefully serve myself a bowl of porridge and plonk myself down at the dining room table in front of a great slew of reading material sprawled across the table.  The weekend paper, a design magazine, The National Geographic, or more recently, grace a mon frère, The New Scientist.  The New Scientist is a weekly publication which I am convinced has the power to augment ones intelligence through proximity alone.  Should this not prove fruitful however then ensure you are seen by those you wish to impress, your nose buried deep in its pages, a studious look set on your face.

Browsing its pages just the other morning I came across a brief article entitled “Epicurean”, exploring the approach of both humans and animals to food.  By means of cooking calorie-dense foods humans need spend only one hour a day chewing their food (in order to sustain themselves) in comparison to Chimps who spend six hours and who eat exclusively in isolation.  Humans set themselves apart not only in this way, but also by the mere fact that they take pleasure from mealtimes, from the act of sharing food with one-another.  This enjoyment of food extends beyond nourishment appealing also to the emotions.  Food is theatre, it is art, it is memories past and memories yet to be made.

This is a recipe which aptly illustrates the notion described above.  Whilst eggs are a fantastic source of nourishment, done like this they are also a work of art.  Enjoy!


5 eggs
4 cups water
3 tbsp black tea (I used smoky Lapsang Souchong)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 star anise

Salt & Pepper
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp pink peppercorns
1 tsp sea/rock salt


1. Boil the eggs for 7 minutes until hard, then drain. Using the back of a spoon, tap each egg all over to crack it being careful to make sure the shell stays intact. Place the eggs back in the saucepan, add the water and bring to the boil.
2. Once boiling add the tea, salt and spices, turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. If the water level drops below the tops of the eggs then add more to ensure that they are fully submersed in the liquid.
3. Meanwhile dry toast the black peppercorns in a frying pan until they become fragrant (this should only take a minute or two). Remove from the heat and gently bash them up a bit in a mortar and pestle. Do the same for the pink peppercorns (these are not toasted) and the salt then combine the three and place in a wee serving dish.
3. Remove the eggs from the saucepan and discard the liquid. Peel the eggs and serve them with the salt and pepper mixture.