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In Zhelizhai, on the fringes of the Gobi Desert in north-west China, the majority of the villagers have piereing blue or green eye, some have long noses, some even have fair hair. DNA tests prove that these features are Caucasian in origin and it is thought that the villagers are descended from a lost legion of Roman soldiers, many generations ago.
While the archaeologists conducted digs in the region, along the ancient Silk Route, something closer to home caught my attention: tea eggs. The family with whom I was staying had gone to work in the fields and they said that they wouldn’t be back until dark. I looked forward to exploring the area. I thought I would fit in,being ethnically Chinese, but I stood out like a sore thumb. As I wandered around the village, some villagers were washing in the nearby lake, others were huddled under the trees -some of them were cooking.
A deeply wrinkled woman with emerald eyes caught my attention.With five or six young children all tugging at her dress she waved me over and offered me a tea egg from a pot of black liquid containing various spices and tea. The smell was intoxicating and made my stomach grumble. As we spoke different languages we had to communicate with lots of smiling and hand gestures.
The egg was beautifully marbled, where the spice and tea mixture permeated the cracked shell. The scent was earthy, slightly salry, with a subtle spice. The yolk had a thin, greyish layer and a yellow centre and the tea brought out the yolk’s flavour. As I set off again the kids took a liking to my shiny shoes and started to dance around me, their laughter echoing across the village.
200ml dark soy sauce
3 star anise
3 tbsp black (oolong) leaf tea
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 strips of dried tangerine or mandarin orange peel
How to make tea eggs (chinese tea eggs recipe)
Boil the eggs in a saucepan for 5 minutes, then lift them out using a slotted spoon and cool under cold water.
Crack the eggshells all over.
Put the eggs back into the pan of hot water, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat.
Turn off the heat and leave the eggs in the liquid for at least 5 hours-preferably overnight.
Serve cold or warm.
These would make a wonderful breakfast-especially at Easter. They are also great cut into quarters and served on a bowl of steaming hot noodles.
how long do tea eggs last in the fridge
Tea eggs are a delicious treat, and if stored properly in the fridge, they can last for up to 5 days.