Commonly sold at pasar malam (night bazaar) street food stores, the Chinese snack of tea eggs is also sometimes known as marbled eggs or tea leaf eggs (literal translation from its Chinese name). The best way to describe a Chinese tea egg is that it's a hard-boiled egg that's infused with flavours of black tea leaves, as well as a variety of Chinese herbs and spices. And although eggs (especially its yolks) are known to be high in cholesterol, there is a handful of good elements in this snack.
According to Jaclyn Reutens, a dietician at Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants, one Chinese tea egg contains about 70 calories, 7g protein and 170mg of cholesterol. It's high in protein and B vitamins, choline, vitamin A and phosphorous, but low in saturated fat.
How they are cooked will determine their calorie and nutritional content. Tea eggs are healthier than fried and scrambled ones, as well as omelettes (their fat content is much higher). "And since Chinese tea eggs are typically boiled, there's usually no fat added in the cooking process, which makes them healthy," says Reutens.
How They Are Made
The most common method of cooking: First, gently crack the shells of hard-boiled eggs. Next, simmer the eggs in a brew of black tea with spices such as star anise, cinnamon and cloves. This simmering process gives them their flavour, which is carried right through to the yolks. This also gives them their sepia colour and marbled look, which is due to the brew seeping through the cracks of the shells.
Make Them Even Healthier
A healthier way of cooking this dish is to use less salt and low-sodium soya sauce, recommends Reutens. Because of the nature of the dish, these eggs are best enjoyed either for breakfast or as a snack at any time of the day. But eat them in moderation, and don't indulge too often just because they have some health benefits.
Watch That Cholesterol Level
Although nutritious, we should watch how many eggs we eat because their yolks are high in cholesterol, says Reutens. "Our recommended daily allowance of cholesterol is 300mg a day. Since an egg yolk has about 190mg - or half our RDA - we should limit ourselves to no more than four eggs a week."
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