23 May 2010

Oolong Tea Eggs Recipe

I love tea eggs and soy sauce eggs.  You used to be able to get them at every 7-11 in Hong Kong, but they’ve become less popular and are not as easy to find.  Fortunately, they are still everywhere in Taiwan.

Most of the recipes for tea eggs use star anise and cheap but strong black tea.  The resulting flavor is bold and flavorful, but lacking the balanced taste profile that is found in a good oolong tea egg (uncommon and harder to find).

In the recipes section of a book I just obtained called 果然是好茶(Good Tea Indeed), I found a recipe for Tieguanyin oolong eggs.  Translated, the ingredients are:

- 4 eggs

- ~1.5 ounces of oxidized Tieguanyin (sorry, most of the mainland TGY, delicious as it may be, won’t be strong enough to impart taste to the eggs)

- 2 teaspoons of salt

- 1 teaspoon of granulated white sugar

1.  Heat a little more than 2 cups of water to near boiling and infuse the tea for 3 minutes.  After the tea has been infused, remove the leaves and add the sugar and salt.  Mix and let sit (preferably covered with a dish to retain the heat).

2.  Put the eggs into a pot with cold water and heat to boiling.  After the water boils, leave the eggs in the pot for 3 to 5 minutes and then turn the stove off.  The eggs should now be about 50%+ cooked.

3.  Put the eggs into a bowl of cold water (this will help to reduce the strong sulfur smell and the ugly green color around the yolk).  Remove or crack the shells and place the eggs into the previously prepared tea/sugar/salt solution.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 days and then enjoy.


I haven’t tried this recipe before, but it looks tasty.  I would probably use much less tea (I hate to waste so much good tea, an ounce would last many, many sessions) and when I’ve made tea eggs using black tea, I put the eggs into the black tea and salt solution and boiled them for a few hours before placing everything into the refrigerator overnight to soak some more.  However, even moderate-oxidized oolong is much less assertive in taste than black tea, so I can understand that it would take longer to impart flavor.


15 May 2010

Lucky to have Good Tap Water

Of the multitude of bottled waters, water filtration systems, charcoal/river rock additives etc, which ones really help tea bring out its flavor?  This, along with water temperature and brewing times, is one of the major discussion topics for tea lovers.

I’ve used several different sources of water for tea and I’ve tried adding in river rocks and bamboo (both made the water softer but also mutes the taste of the teas ever so slightly).  Well water and spring water are both great, but if left in a warm and sunny place in a transparent bottle, both had some sort of algae growth that changed the taste.  Leaving a big bottle of the water in a cool and dark place prevented nasty effects, but the water went flat if left for more than a week.

Of the many different bottled waters, I like the ones that have mineral content.  I try to avoid using too much bottled water because of the waste produced and the fact that up here, we have excellent sources for our tap water.  However, Evian, Volvic, Fiji and one of the NumerO waters work nicely.

So why isn’t there more talk about using the tap water of cities with good sources of water?  Ours comes from rain and the mountains.  I think the problem with tap is not the water itself, but the pipes they travel through. Seattle is not a particularly young city (unless you compare us to what is now Cairo, in which case we’re a baby), and many of the houses here still have old pipes (galvanized steel, prone to rust).  I was having tea with a friend that lives in Redmond, a younger, more recently-developed city that is best known as the home of Microsoft, and his tap water tasted fine, better than my filtered tap water.

I wonder why they haven’t started bottling and selling a filtered version of our tap water like so many other cities have?