These eggs are traditionally made in China and Taiwan, where they are often sold in convenience stores to this day as a quick snack on the go; the hard-boiled egg as the original fast food. They are also associated with the Chinese New Year, when they are consumed to invite wealth, prosperity, and fertility. Although we are long past the Chinese New Year, we happen to have other traditions with similarly deep and tangled roots, that require many an egg to be hard-boiled around this time of year. Add these to your repertoire, and enjoy hard-boiled eggs as something not only beautiful and nutritious, but delicious, as well. The recipe calls for eggs which are a few days old; fresh-laid eggs do not peel as well as those which have been stored for several days.
Place the eggs in a medium pot and fill with water to cover by 1”. (If you use a pot that is much larger than the capacity to fit your eggs, the recipe will end up diluted, as this egg water becomes part of the brine that the eggs soaks in.)
Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the eggs, leaving the water in the pot; cool the eggs under cold running water. Using the back of a teaspoon, tap the eggshell to crack the shell all over. You want the cracks to be deep enough to pierce the thin membrane that surrounds the egg white, but not so vigorous that the shell itself disintegrates. The more cracks in the shell, the more intricate the design will be.
Return the eggs to the original pot of boiled water.
Add in the soy sauce, tea, and spices, and bring the mixture to a boil.
As soon as the water has boiled, reduce the heat and bring the pot to a low simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes, then remove the pot from heat.
When the pot has cooled, place it in the refrigerator. Allow the eggs to steep in the spice and soy mixture for at least 12 hours. The longer they steep, the saltier and more flavorful they get, and the more pronounced the marbling becomes.
Store the eggs in their shells in the fridge, and peel them as you want to eat them. Or peel them all at once for a party or a snack plate! Sliced in half, they make a beautiful presentation.
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