February 3rd, 2011

{food & learning} Chinese New Year! Make Tea Eggs with the Kiddos

chinese new year tea eggs

Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year 2011, the year of the Rabbit! Though I may be recuperating in bed, I hope to celebrate over the weekend and making Chinese tea eggs with the Hungry Boy is on the top of my list.

Symbolic food plays a big role in Chinese culture and, being that Chinese New Year is a most important celebration, food plays a major part in the new year festivities. Tea eggs, in particular, symbolize golden nuggets and are served to promote prosperity and wealth in the new year. (Other foods at the Chinese New Year table are thought to promote happiness and longevity, other common new year themes.)

Aside from symbolic meaning, tea eggs — also called marbled eggs — are just plain pretty. And making them is like doing a tie dye project with food!

The technique is super easy: hard boil eggs; crack the shell all over with the back of a spoon, making sure to keep the shell intact, but also making the cracks deep enough for the tea mixture to seep in; steep in tea mixture.

Steamy Kitchen, one of my favorite food sites, has the best how-to that I’ve seen, along with a great, simple tea egg recipe (can be shared with kids 10+ mos*). Caffeine is not much of an issue in this recipe. The amount of tea that a child will ingest while eating a tea egg is minimal. But, if you want to be super careful or you’ll be feeding this as a finger food to an early eater under 12 months old, you should use decaffeinated tea. Plain black decaf tea is fine, or check out my list of toddler-friendly teas for other options.

And, if you need some background on Chinese New Year — you know, to tell the kiddos what it’s all about while you’re making tea eggs — check out these resources:

* Wikipedia on Chinese New Year
* What is Chinese New Year? on Kaboose
* A list of the Top 5 Children’s Books about Chinese New Year on About.com
* Super cute Chinese New Year craft from Alphamom: Year of the Rabbit Printable (via Cool Mom Picks)

Gung hay fat choy! Best wishes and Congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year!

*Note: Eggs make a great finger food for kids 10+ mos who are able to mash small, soft pieces with their gums. If your child is younger than 10 months and already eating small pieces of hard boiled egg, go ahead and share these, too! If your child is under 12 mos and has never eaten egg whites before, be aware that some children have a sensitivity to the whites. This doesn’t mean you should necessarily hold off on sharing these or plain hard boiled eggs. Speak to your pediatrician about what’s best for your child and take a look at my guide to introducing high allergen foods.

Photo: iStockPhoto/Thornberry

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