On 25 January, millions of people across China and the wider Chinese diaspora celebrate the arrival of the new lunar year. A traditional dinner-table staple is the ‘tea egg’ – a boiled egg left to steep in a soy sauce and tea-infused broth for a number of hours. While the age-old association between eggs, rebirth and prosperity means the dish is a fitting festive treat, tea eggs can be enjoyed as a snack all year round, and are also commonly sold in shops and by street vendors.


  • 8 eggs
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp black soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp black tea leaves
  • 2 pods star anise
  • 1 (5cm) cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp tangerine zest


  • STEP 1

    Place the eggs and 1 tsp salt in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

  • STEP 2

    Remove from the heat and drain, and once cooled, tap each of the eggs with the back of a spoon to crack their shells (without fully removing them).

  • STEP 3

    Set the eggs aside, and in another large pan, combine the 750ml water with the soy sauces, ¼ tsp salt and remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for three hours.

  • STEP 4

    Remove from the heat, add the eggs to the broth and let steep for at least eight hours. Remove shells and serve.

Recipe by Soygirl2 on

This recipe was first published in the January 2020 issue of BBC History Magazine