What the heck is a tea egg?
Well, I found out this past Saturday when I ventured in to a little hole-in-the-wall called FrostCity in Moiliili.
Tucked in a small building just before Jiffy Lube when heading ewa on Beretania Street, the family-owned shop is actually known for “snow ice,” a sort of shave ice/ice cream hybrid dessert. Touting fruity tropical flavors such as lilikoi, raspberry, haupia and pineapple, snow ice is a creamy, yet crisp, refreshing treat. They also have some less conventional flavors such as durian and watercress. I have never wondered what a watercress shave ice tastes like until now. I think I’ll go back and try it this weekend.
Now back to tea eggs. Despite my Chinese heritage, I have never heard of these before. After tasting them and prior to researching them, I would describe them as a marinated boiled egg. It was difficult to pinpoint the flavors of the egg, especially since my 12-year-old daughter consumed most of them before I could even ponder what I was tasting. After a quick Google search, I’ve learned that tea eggs are a popular snack in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. In fact, an average of 40 million tea eggs are sold each year at 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan.
Apparently there are various recipes for tea eggs, but the sign at FrostCity says: Tea Eggs – a savory snack that can be eaten any part of the day. The eggs are traditionally prepared and brewed in a mixture of Chinese five-spice powder, tea and licorice.
Although I am quite fond of boiled eggs, I never would have ordered tea eggs on my own. FrostCity’s owner, Stella Tsang, generously brought them to my table to sample while I was enjoying my pineapple snow ice. For someone like me who must eat something salty (i.e. potato chips) following something sweet (i.e. ice cream) in a never-ending sweet-salty eating cycle, savory tea eggs seem to be a perfect companion to sweet snow ice. And vice versa.