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Tea Eggs (茶叶蛋) and School Days

Born and raised in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in Southwest China, Ling Peng stands in her kitchen in Cincinnati, Ohio and gazes at the tea eggs on the countertop. The eggs are hard boiled and distinctively marbled, much like a webbed veil.

Tea eggs marbled with tea-infused flavor

“I used to eat this in my school days,” she says. “I was maybe in fourth or fifth grade.”

She recalls her route to school, about a 20-minute walk on Qian Ling Street (黔灵西路). Ling vividly remembers the billowing steam from the open woks on the streetside, keeping the tea eggs warm . “This is a common street food,” she adds.

These tea eggs are not only flavorful — smoky, savory, and with a hint of sweet spice from having steeped in a tea-based liquid — they are also very affordable. Ling says the eggs were only a penny each in her time — in the late 1960s.

She used to buy an egg on her way to school — and sometimes on her way home — and peel the cracked shell to get to the flavor-veined snack inside. Ling is not quite sure how the “cracked” motif started in China but notes how prevalent and in vogue this look is. She quickly brings out a pair of petite tea cups bearing this very recognizable look.

Petite tea cups (forefront) bearing a smiliar “cracked” motif as the tea eggs

“Do you see?” she queries.

Ling is determined to delve into the history of this design but in the meantime, she shares her recipe for tea eggs. And in so doing, a little bit of her childhood.

Ling presenting a pair of tea eggs — one peeled and one still in shell

Click here for the recipe: Tea Eggs Recipe

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