Tea egg is such a quintessential Taiwanese street food that the memory of its aroma always brings nostalgia for all the delicious comfort food Taiwanese cuisine offers. Usually, the eggs are hard-boiled and simmered with tea leaves until served. I prefer the yolk texture from a soft-boiled egg and will do a twist from the traditional style.
Allow the eggs come to room temperature if just stored in refrigerator, then gently place them in slow boiling water and maintain the slow boil for 7 minutes. Carefully move the eggs around so the yolk will stay in the center. In the mean time, prepare an ice bath, basically a big bowl of ice water. Once the eggs are cooked for 7 minutes, put them in the ice bath. I leave them long enough that the eggs are completely chilled. Then use the back of spoon to crack the shells all over without breaking off any piece.
In a medium size saucepan or pot, pour enough water that can cover all the eggs later; substitute a portion of water with cooking rice wine if available. Add soy sauce, some star anise, sugar, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and maintain boil for several minutes until the alcohol in the cooking wine evaporates. For tea, I use Shan Lin Shi oolong and Darjeeling black tea at a ratio of 2:1. Darjeeling will enhance the tea flavor while Shan Lin Shi intensify the aroma.
Once the leaves are completely open and the kitchen is filled with oolong aroma, turn off the heat. Place the eggs in the pot and make sure they are completely submerged and move some tea leaves to place over the eggs as well. Cover the pot and set aside for at least 12 hours. It is not necessary to refrigerate the eggs; just make sure they are away from heat which might continue cooking the yolk.
When the eggs are ready to be served, peel off the shell. They will have a beautiful marble look and yolk that is still running. Of course, the longer the eggs stay in the tea broth, both flavor and aroma will be more intense. If you prefer a more solid yolk, simply cook the eggs in the broth. Now please excuse me, I need to devour this egg.
Salty egg is a staple in the traditional Chinese breakfast of rice porridge, pickled vegetable, and shredded pork. It is quite nutritious as it contains higher level of iron and calcium than a fresh egg and very easy to make at home. The process is just like pickling, with lots of salt.
The basic salty egg just requires salt, water, and a bit of cooking rice wine, but you can always add other aromatics or spices to make it more exciting. One of the variations calls for tea as the additional flavor, which we are doing for this batch of salty eggs. The required materials are one dozen eggs, a tight-lid jar big enough to hold all of the eggs, 7 oz salt, cooking rice wine, and 2 oz of your favorite tea. We use Bao Zhong in ours.
In a deep sauce pan or wok, stir the salt and tea over medium heat until aroma of toasted tea comes out. Add about 7 cups of water and stir until the salt dissolves. Add a dash of cooking rice wine then let the liquid cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, put the eggs in the jar and fill with liquid until all eggs are covered. If a less tea flavor is desired, take out the tea leaves before pouring the liquid. Seal the jar and store in a cool place, such as the bottom shelf of your pantry.
Now we just have to wait about a month and the eggs will be ready. We usually take one out and steam it after 3 weeks just to make sure they are not becoming too salty. So far, a month is always the perfect length of curing period. Enjoy!
Da Yu Ling Oolong is the highest elevation oolong we carry, from a tea farm situated at 7,500 ft above sea level. This area is quite close to the Li Shan tea area; they are actually the east and west face respectively of the same mountain peak. Spring Da Yu Ling is one of the ultimate luxuries in Taiwanese oolong.
The color of the dry leaf is a beautiful, vibrant green, with both light and saturated shades. There is a fresh, yet rich floral aroma with hints of woody and leafy fragrance. Hand feel is prickly without being brittle. The steeping vessel of choice is my clay pot I reserve for only high altitude oolong.
My tea farmer once told me that high quality tea is so easy to enjoy, because it will taste great regardless how you steep it. I agree wholeheartedly based on personal experiences, but I have to say this clay teapot just makes Da Yu Ling even better. The leaves unfurl in the little pot and reveal the artistry of oolong making with the faint red line along the edge. It is caused by the shuffling and proper oxidization.
The tea liquid is yellowish green. The aroma is subtle and floral, which can only be described as refrained and elegant. The mouthfeel is silky and smooth with no astringency. Whereas the taste of Shan Lin Shi is mineral and Li Shan fruity, Da Yu Ling is a bit more vegetal. Connoisseurs in Taiwan like to describe it as reminiscent of a pristine forest; tasting the beauty of nature in every sip.
Li Shan 梨山, aka Pear Mountain, is another famous peak in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Its location is at a crossroad section of three counties, Tai Chung 台中, Nan Tou 南投, and Hua Lien 花蓮. In the past, Taiwanese aborigines called it Slamaw, which means exterminated in commemoration of the aborigines massacred by the Japanese troops during their brutal occupation. The name was changed to the current name Li Shan after the island was back under the sovereignty of the Chinese government. Starting in the 1960’s, two farms were established specifically for the veterans to grow fruits commercially as ways to sustain their living. Eventually, teas were planted and Li Shan soon became another famous high altitude oolong producing region.
Our tea farm is at an elevation of 2,100 meters or 6,889 feet above sea level and is considered an anchor Li Shan tea farm for its exceptional quality. The dry aroma has a fresh and intricate scent, a combination of a subtle vegetal and fruity smell. This is not to say the aroma is faint. On the contrary, it is pronounced and distinctive, yet in a most sophisticated presentation. In combination with the aroma, the deep emerald color of the leaves almost seems sensual. The hand-feel is delicate, not too dry and brittle. I use my trusted porcelain Gai Wan to do the honor of steeping this Li Shan. Only a bit of leaves is needed for this oolong for it actually has a very focused aroma and flavor, despite its muted impression.
The liquid is a beautiful light yellow with greenish tint. The aroma offers fruity notes with refrained floral hints. The flavor is immediately sweet, as if I am tasting the aroma itself. The floral fragrance seems to float in the background, distinct yet elusive. The mouthfeel is extremely soft and silky, no astringency at all, and has a nice weight on the tongue. The fragrance and sweetness remain for quite a long time after sipping. This Li Shan is absolutely exquisite with a subdued sensuality.
Dong Ding, located in Nan Tou County, is one of the earliest tea producing regions in Taiwan to achieve recognition for unique characteristic and superior quality. This year, we are very excited to offer two styles of Dong Ding: the classic bouquet and the lightly roasted.
The bouquet style is now the standard of Dong Ding style teas, which require a minimum of 30% fermentation that results in a more golden tone and fuller aroma for the dry leaf. Instead of the fresh vegetal aroma emphasized by the high altitude oolongs, this Dong Ding exudes a robust presence, an impression of concentrated tea fragrance.
On the other hand, the roasted style, though with comparable fermentation, goes through an additional light roasting step. The golden tone is subdued and replaced by an overall darkened hue as a result of the roast. The dry aroma has subtle but distinctive notes of toasted rice and caramel.
The color of both Dong Ding are quite similar: a rich golden hue with a nice sheen. The liquid is clear like the cleanest of mountain spring. Bouquet Dong Ding smells of candied fruit and magnolia; whereas roasted has an additional toasted caramel fragrance. The flavor profile of bouquet Dong Ding offers notes of ripening fruit and sweet magnolia; intensely floral that is unique for properly made Dong Ding. The mouth feel is delicate and silky, with the fragrance lasting throughout the tasting. Of course, a sweetness returns and lingers long after.
The flavor profile offers a restrained magnolia with toasted mango note. The mouth feel is delicate and silky, yet weighty on the tongue. The fragrance fills the cavity and lasts throughout the tasting. The intense oolong taste is complimented well by the returning sweetness that lingers long after the sip.
Our two new Dong Ding, each with its own distinctive characteristics, offer unique satisfaction to different palates. Hope you will enjoy both!