i got it into my head to make a batch of tea eggs. carl tried them a few years ago. the idea and the process appealed to me, but the result was underwhelming. i saw a stunning photo of some online, and decided to give it a try. as usual when i decide to make something, i look through my own collection of cookbooks, and then do an online search, pick the best looking recipe, and then tweak it to my own preferences. this one was a combination of madhur jaffrey's and this one. I had some chinese five spice, so i used that, but i skipped the star anise (not a favorite of mine) and did not cook the eggs for as long as recommended. also, i had no chinese black tea, so i just used what i could round up from my tea stash.
the process includes hard boiling the eggs, then cracking the shells all over, but keeping them on the egg. then you mix up this tea/soy sauce/spice brew, and steep the eggs in that for a number of hours, so that the dark sauce penetrates through the cracks, leaving a web like pattern on the egg.
this dish is a feast for the eyes. the most dramatic pattern appears on the inside of the shell, which, of course, gets peeled off before serving, but the peeled eggs also look lovely. the taste on the egg is rather subtle, but nice. i arranged them in a beautiful dish (made by my friend libby), took them to a neighborhood potluck, and everyone seemed to enjoy them. photographing them was my favorite part.