January 28th, 2014
Video Tuesday is back, in 2014 style! Today we’re celebrating Chinese New Year with delicious Chinese Tea Eggs, which make an awesome cultural kitchen project with kids. After today, I’ll, once again, be posting a video at least every other Tuesday.
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Chinese New Year is around the corner: let the festivities begin! This year, we’re ushering in the year of the horse. While I’m not quite sure what that means, I know this: Chinese New Year offers a spectacularly fun opportunity to use food to talk to our kids about culture. And, you know, eat lots of delicious Chinese food.
Symbolic food plays a big role in Chinese culture and, being that Chinese New Year is an important celebration, food plays a major part in the New Year festivities. Foods at the Chinese New Year table are thought to promote happiness, longevity, and other common new year themes. Tea eggs are said to symbolize golden nuggets and are served to promote prosperity and wealth in the new year.
And, aside from their symbolic meaning, tea eggs are just plain pretty.
(It’s kind of like tie dying with eggs!)
Making tea eggs is super easy, though it happens over time. If you’re doing this project with little ones, be sure to prep them for that. No instant results here. The steps are fun enough, though, that most kids will enjoy following along. After all, they get to crack egg shells with a spoon. Who doesn’t love a little bashing?! (Or is that just in my house?)
Watch to see how to make Chinese New Year Tea Eggs and get the recipe below. If you want to talk to your kids about Chinese New Year, here are a few useful resources:
* Wikipedia on Chinese New Year
* A quick background on Chinese New Year (designed for 2nd and 3rd grade teachers; right about my speed!) that helped arm me with what I needed to know to tell my kids about the holiday
* A list of the Top 5 Children’s Books about Chinese New Year on About.com
* A list of Chinese Folk Tales for kids from What We Do All Day that make a great accompaniment to this project
* Super cute Chinese New Year craft from Alphamom: Year of the Horse Printable
Gung hay fat choy! Best wishes for a prosperous and good year!
Chinese Tea Eggs
(Can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
Makes 1 dozen eggs
1 dozen white eggs, hard boiled with cooking water reserved if done on the same day
½ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 black tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose black tea
2 whole star anise
2 big strips orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1. Start with perfectly hard boiled eggs and use the back of a spoon to crack the shell all over. You want the shell to remain intact—we’re not peeling these yet—but you also want to make sure that the cracks run deep enough for the tea mixture to seep in. That’s what dyes the egg white creating a beautiful pattern. The more you tap the egg shell, the more intricate the pattern.
2. If you’ve just boiled the eggs, add the soy sauce, sugar, tea, star anise, orange peel, and cinnamon stick to the cooking water. If you’ve hard boiled the eggs in advance, add all of the ingredients to 3-4 cups of water. Either way, be sure that your pot is large enough to accommodate all 12 eggs.
3. Carefully place the eggs in the pot with the tea mixture, making sure that they are each completely covered. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the eggs to simmer, covered, for about an hour. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the eggs to steep several more hours or overnight. The longer they steep, the darker the pattern.
4. When these tea eggs are ready, you’ll peel them to reveal a beautiful pattern. These are best served at room temperature or warm. We like to dip ours in a little soy sauce or sprinkle with salt (and, in my case, a little hot sauce, which I don’t think is traditional but perhaps makes for a spicy 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.