Tea flavoured eggs recipe (cha ye dan) – a snack from China

Happy 2016! Let’s kick off the new year with a recipe for tea flavoured eggs: a common snack in China, lightly salted and fragranced with black tea. You can either use black tea leaves or tea bags such as these Twining black tea varieties. Assam works quite well and gives the eggs a nice flavour. Please don’t use green tea, as the flavours won’t feel balanced.

I’m using tea bags in this recipe, as I needed to use decaf tea. Otherwise, this is a quite strongly flavoured version of the recipe, as I prefer a stronger taste for the eggs.

Despite the long cooking time for this recipe (around 1 hour then soaking overnight), it’s actually very simple to prepare. The eggs will keep for 3 days if refrigerated, so you can cook a larger batch if you prefer.


4 eggs
3 tea bags
3 star anise
6-7 cloves
2 sprigs of cinnamon (I’m using the Chinese version here)
1 heaped tablespoon of five spices powder
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
Salt to taste


Step 1: place the eggs in a small pan. Boil on medium heat with the lid on for 5 minutes.

Step 2: remove the eggs from the pan and set aside to cool. Leave the water in the pan.


Step 3: once cool, gently make cracks on the surface of the egg shells, but don’t peel the them! You can tap the eggs with the back of a spoon to do so. This version is quite thoroughly cracked in order to make the flavour stronger.

Step 4: add the tea bags, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, five spices powder, soya sauce and a dusting of salt back into the pan along with the eggs. Top up the water so that the eggs are covered if needed.

Step 5: simmer on low heat, keeping the pan covered, for 40 minutes.

Step 6: remove the tea bags and spices and leave the eggs sitting in the liquid overnight. Then they’re ready to eat!


Once you peel them, you should get a nice marbled effect on the egg whites.



This is a nice, alternative way to eat your eggs at breakfast. What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Tea flavoured eggs recipe (cha ye dan) – a snack from China

  1. Great photos – this technique is a wow – really impresses at dinner parties.
    I did mine in a nest of fried straw courgette and a swipe of curry masala on the plate. Fun and classy at the same time.


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