Ok, Dagny Wins. I am weird. I get up at 4 am and check the international addition of CNN on the Internet which happens to be edition.cnn.com. Now that is usually a non event which allows me to check the global stock markets and then focus on my prayer beads for the new stock picksof the day. Yesterday was different as I met a story on Tea Eggs and an irresistible challenge to make DIY (Do It Yourself) Zhou’s Tea Eggs which I immediately accepted to mean DIY Zhou’s Tea Eggs Coffeepot Style.
Now the biggest problem I had was finding haujiao peppers which simply don’t exist in St. Croix. I immediately searched the Internet to find out the flavor of these peppers is so unique that there is no credible substitute. No problem, I was looking at a method of making them more than the exact flavor so I checked all of the hot Chinese style sauces available locally and found that they were made from dried chili peppers which I had in stock plus I planned on adding my local scotch bonnet peppers which could bring it up a notch.
I put the eggs in my coffeepot and ran the water through the coffeemaker to get it up to temperature right away and let the eggs sit on the warmer for 30 minutes which gave me the equivalent look and taste to a 4 minute egg. The eggs were cooled and the shells were cracked with the back of a spoon against the counter top. Do not crack the ends as the ends may be hollow, I followed the recipe as best I could except that I used a scotch bonnet pepper and a dried chili in lieu of the haujiao pepper and had to adjust the cooking times.
1 cup soy sauce
1 dried chili
1 dried scotch bonnet
4 Tea Bags Black tea
2 Teaspoons sugar
1.5 Tablespoon five spice blend
Saved water from cooking eggs to fill pot
I put all ingredients in the pot and stirred until most dissolved leaving space for the eggs.
After 4 hours on the hot plate of the coffeemaker, the egg shells have taken on the rich mahogany color described in the article.
After 7.5 hours the beautiful patterns developed from the cracking process (see top picture).
I refrigerated the eggs overnight and allowed the full flavor to develop.
In the process of making Tea Eggs, I developed a lot of respect for Zhou as making the eggs is more an art form that actually cooking Chinese food. As photographed, I had some pretty eggs but only half which would not be a satisfactory percentage for a Tea Egg vendor. The two problems are that not all eggs pealed properly and not all of my cracks generated perfect patterns. The other issue was flavor. My recipe lacked the bite of the real product and pretty much had only the flavor of tea, sugar, and spice and no pepper taste at all.
If you can get the ingredients, this would be a fun project for cooking with kids. I just might use the process to make a patterned egg with my granddaughters but would probably use a red beet die as it’s more traditionally American and I can get all the ingredients.