This is one of the cooler dishes I’ve ever made. I’d heard about Chinese tea eggs before, but had never made them. Then I found myself working with madrone bark, which peels off in cinnamon-like curls every summer. The Indians here in California used madrone bark tea medicinally, and I’ve been experimenting with the concoction, which tastes like a combination of cinnamon, mushrooms, woodsmoke — and something I can’t quite pin down.
The result is a warm and lovely hard-boiled egg that, if you crack the egg after an initial boil, will be covered in a latticework of madrone tea marks. It is beautiful; looks like a spiderweb.
Once cooked, these tea eggs will last in the fridge for 10 days, but they are best within three days.
1 dozen eggs
6 cups madrone tea (see below)
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
zest of a lemon
10 crushed juniper berries
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1. To make the madrone bark tea, bring 6-7 cups of water to a boil, then add 15-25 madrone bark curls. Cover and turn off the heat. Let steep overnight. This tea lasts a long time in the fridge, so you can make it ahead of time.
2. Boil the eggs in plain water to start. Put the eggs in a pot, cover with cool water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat. When the water is cool enough to touch, pull the eggs out and submerge in cold water.
3. Meanwhile add all the remaining ingredients into a large pot and bring to a simmer.
4. Take each egg and crack the shell gently all around the egg. You want it to stay intact, but be covered in tiny cracks.
5. Place the eggs in the madrone tea and simmer for 2-3 hours. Turn off the heat, cover and steep overnight. Eat cold or at room temperature.
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