EnlargeCredit: Todd Coleman
As beautiful as they are delicious, these popular Chinese snacks, called cha ye dan, are made by hard-boiling eggs, gently cracking their shells, and simmering them in a fragrant brew of black tea and spices—cinnamon, star anise, whole cloves. The flavored tea imparts a sweet flavor that carries right through to the yolk, and a sepia tint that lends an antique, marbled look to the white. Home cooks, chefs, and street vendors across China have their own takes on the centuries-old recipe: Some add soy sauce to the brew; others up the sweet and spicy quotient by mixing in sugar and peppercorns. No matter how they're made, they have pride of place on our table.