Marbled Tea eggs and Food Stories

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Emily Abdinor Marbled Tea Egg


Food + Photography = Love.

When I was at Food Photography Workshop, I had this feeling.

The feeling spoke to me saying: yes, this is what you’re supposed to do. This is for you.

I can’t explain it. I know it sounds all woo-woo and out there, but it’s true.

I just felt so happy that I found something I really loved.

To me, Food + Photography = Love. It’s that simple, yet that complicated.

Since then, I’ve turned my life upside down since then chasing this feeling and seeing where it will lead me. There’s no manual. There’s no book to how to tutorial to get you where you want to go. But somehow when you sit down day after day, working on it, you inch yourself closer and closer.

I started to think about food stories. How I love them. How I want to read them, and more importantly how I want to tell them. They are so interconnected in my life and the lives of others around me. It would be hard for me to tell you a story about a time in my life where I don’t have a corresponding food memory. Let’s start with this one: 


Emily Abdinor marbled tea eggs

Marbled Tea Eggs

Tea shops were always around. But then the late 90’s Boba explosion occurred and you couldn’t help but see tea shops everywhere, at least in the Bay Area. A lot of them serve a large selection of beverages, but some even serve tea infused foods. 

I couldn’t exactly tell you the first time I had flavored tea eggs. I want to say it was a ginger soy infusion and my age was in the single digits. It was just a casual snack from playing. I do remember the dark seasoned rind on the eggs. A deep brown almost back. I didn’t ask how long they were being cured for. I didn’t think to ask back then. I just knew it was the most flavorful egg I’ve ever had. Much more interesting than the hard boiled eggs at school or day care.  

I’ve made a couple of marbled tea egg batches. Once as an experiment. Once for my Asian-American girlfriend who had gestational diabetes and was sad that her diet was so limited. Once of these photos. 

They don’t exactly taste the same, but they do the trick. 

Adapted from The Steamy Kitchen

6 eggs
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tablespoons black tea (or 2 tea bags)
2  short cinnamon sticks (from a jar)
1 tsp black peppercorn  

Place the eggs in a pot and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1-inch. Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat off after it comes to a boil and let them sit in the hot covered pot for 8 mins.

Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon into an ice bath. I’m pretty lazy so I use the coldest water that comes out of the tap and switch out when the water gets hot. Don’t toss the hot water! We’re going to use it again! 

Using the back of a spoon, gently tap each egg  to gently crack each shell until the desired marble pattern is achieved. The more you tap, the more intricate the design. You want to be delicate so that you don’t damage the egg inside. If you do the pattern will be less uniform, but the flavor will be still be good. 

Put the eggs back into the pot and add in the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling turn the heat to low. Simmer on low for 40 minutes, cover with lid and let eggs steep for a few hours to overnight.

I’ve played with steeping overnight. As the huge fires were occurring last time I made a batch. I didn’t feel great about leaving a flame unattended overnight. You could transfer it all to a slow cooker and let it go low and slow, OR I put it all in the fridge to see how the cold brew method (sort of) would play out. The answer is that the cold brew method takes longer to delveop flavor. I only liked the flavor after 48hrs of fridge time. If you want more flavor faster, I would suggest the low simmer/crockpot method. 

A lot of people have asked how I developed the deeper color and the answer is: more time. 

I hope you enjoyed this food story and recipe! Please let me know if there’s a food you’d like me to share and write about!

Emily Abdinor Photography Marbled Tea Eggs

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