Tea-Infused Marbled Quail Eggs


From one end of the world to another for centuries upon centuries upon centuries, quail eggs have been and are still considered a delicacy. And though they are to ancient taste, they are to modern taste as well. In good restaurants (or on Instagram if you'd rather) one can have quail eggs on toast. Salad with hard-boiled quail eggs. Quail egg (shells) filled with chocolate. Tiny, fried quail eggs. Poached quail eggs.  You can do pretty much anything to a quail egg that you could do to a chicken egg...provided you can afford them. These diminutive, speckled eggs are a delicacy so delicate that, in fact, I've never had the financial stamina to buy any. Last I checked, hoping the words "delicacy" and "expensive" had divorced ways, the eggs of quail were going for $6.99 per dozen (or was it per fifteen?). My hopes were, of course, put on hold. I would just have to keep doing without adorable, miniature eggs on my toast. That is until my mom texted me this past weekend while I was in New York City: 
"I bought you a present at the farmers' market. Wanna know what it is???"
Next came a photo of two dozen darling quail eggs packaged neatly in cartons. "$3 for two dozen." 24 perfect quail eggs for a third of the price (give or take) of those sold anywhere else I'd looked. Apparently the seller is married to an Asian woman who is fond of the eggs. "She sort of pickles them" he told my mom. "But I don't know what else anyone would want to use them for." And so, bless his logic, he sells twice as many tiny eggs for the same price as a dozen hen-eggs. I'm just praying the guy continues along in his blessed ignorance and never comes to the realization that most people would ask at least ten dollars more. Inspired by the egg seller's Asian wife (and the fact that we didn't have any soy sauce with which to try Momofuku's soy sauce eggs) I decided to marble some of my quail eggs with Assam tea. To make tea-marbled quail eggs, you simply boil the eggs, crack their shells all over with the back of a teaspoon, and then simmer the cracked eggs once more in a strong brew made of tea and spices. The process is simple, the effect stunning and somehow...I don't know...antique. You can eat the eggs by themselves, dip them in a spiced salt blend, or even slice them into salads. I love the slight smoky-spice flavor imparted by the tea paired with the silky quail eggs. But if you don't have a lucky egg seller, don't worry! This recipe will work just as well with ordinary chicken eggs. Trust the spice blend and, if desired, throw in some star anise and actual cinnamon sticks. The spicier you make it, the more mysterious and cunning the final flavor will be.






Tea-Infused Marble Quail Eggs

1 dozen fresh quail eggs
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons loose leaf black tea (I used and Assam blend)*
*you may substitute four large tea bags for the loose-leaf tea

  1. Bring water in a small saucepan to a rolling boil on the stove, then add quail eggs. Hard-boil, about 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle.
  2. Crack the egg shells with the back of a spoon all over, careful not to displace the shell. You want to shatter the shells but keep them intact.
  3. Bring four cups of fresh water to boil in a large saucepan. When boiling, add the tea leaves, salt, and spices. Then add the quail eggs. Simmer on low for 40 minutes.
  4. Either strain eggs out or (for a deeper color), allow to steep in the brew for at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.


  1. These are stunning! I'm loving your photography skills as much as the tantalizing idea of making these myself.

    1. Kate, I don't mind telling you that this comment really encouraged me - I overcame a hurdle with my photography settings just in time for these quail eggs and to have you notice is huge. <3

  2. My mom just got some quail eggs, I think I will make these.

    1. Skye! Please do. They aren't terribly much different than your classic hard-boiled egg (a little more flavorful) but they are so much more satisfying *emotionally*.


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