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Archive for February, 2010

Tea Eggs

The first tea eggs I saw were in a battered metal bowl perched on a stool on the side of a road in a small Chinese town. Submerged in frothy, brown cooking liquid, they seemed almost an afterthought—a meager offering compared to the intricate noodle dishes offered at the neighboring street food stalls. But the stream of traffic was steady, and the older woman, with cropped, graying hair, had a friendly chat with each customer.

It took a few week to try the eggs—I had heard rumors of eggs fermented in horse urine (completely untrue as I later discovered), and didn’t have the language skill to ask if these were them.

The smell of the liquid convinced me to try one. It was warm and Christmassy, like a savory mulled cider. How could that ever be scary?

I peeled my first tea egg to reveal a beautiful, batik-like pattern on the egg white. I was quickly hooked—the rich fragrant liquid permeates the egg white with hints of soy, anise and rice wine, elevating a boiled egg to a flavorful accompaniment to rice porridge or a quick snack on the go.

Tea eggs: 茶叶蛋

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