A bowl of marbled tea eggs with spices and orange peel and some eggs are peeled and others are not.

Recipe of the Month - Marbled Tea Eggs

Michele Lillie

Try a different kind of Easter egg this year that uses tea in the preparation. Marbled tea eggs, known as Cha Ye Dan/茶叶蛋 or Cha Ji Dan/茶鸡蛋 in Chinese, are a popular snack throughout China. With this easy recipe, you can make them yourself and impress your friends and family.

A black plate holding 2 marbled tea eggs and the shell of another.


  • 12 eggs, medium-sized
  • ¾ cup soy sauce, preferably dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons loose-leaf Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick


Step 1

Put eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold in a single layer. Cover eggs with cold water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, partially covered.  As soon as the water boils, remove from the heat and let eggs stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water and let cool enough so you can handle them. Discard hot water.

Step 2

Gently tap the shells with the back of a spoon to lightly crack all over - do not peel. Do not tap too hard or the tea liquid will seep into the shell instead of just staining the cracks.

Step 3

In the same saucepan, bring the soy sauce, brown sugar, spices and the 5 cups of water to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea. Reduce heat and add the eggs. Ensure eggs are fully submerged; if not, add water. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let eggs stand in the liquid, uncovered, until cool and then cool in the liquid at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. 

Step 4

When ready to serve, remove eggs from the liquid and peel. The whites will be stained into a marbled pattern. The eggs may be served as is or they can be made into a deviled egg with the filling of your choice.


  • Type of Tea - Although Lapsang Souchong is classic, you may substitute another black tea if you do not like the smoky flavor of Lapsang. You may even try a pu-erh, oolong or green tea although the marbling effect will not be as striking with green. Jasmine green tea is nice. Herbal tisanes are not recommended.
  • Spices - Try using Chinese five-spice powder. If you like heat, add a few chile peppers. Add a touch of citrus peel for a fresh note.
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