Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

by Kate Heyhoe


1000 Year Old Eggs


Hi Kate!

I hope you can help me with some information I need to obtain.

Recently I had a discussion with some friends about different ethnic foods and delicacies. When the discussion turned to Chinese foods, I mentioned about the eggs that are buried in the ground and later dug up as a gourmet treat.

They had never heard of this. And I must admit that I could not remember the entire story behind this nor the name of this method used with the eggs.

If you have time, could you please direct me to where I can find this information on the web... or if you could be so kind as to explain this to me so I can relay the information to my friends.

I would appreciate this information very much as I have exhausted my areas of search.

Thank you very much for your time!!



Dear Steve,

Get ready to wow your friends with your erudite culinary knowledge...


"Thousand Year Old Eggs" are really only about 100 days old.

Duck eggs are used instead of chicken eggs.

The raw eggs are buried in the ground in a mixture of clay, lime, salt, tea and straw. I have seen recipes calling for pine ash instead of clay.

This mixture leaches into the shell and egg, making the interior smooth and creamy—like a ripe avocado in texture.

The yolk turns a vivid green and the white various shades of yellow, blue and green. It has been compared to the colors of a black opal.

To eat them, wash the eggs clean, shell them and slice into quarters. The flavor is rich, pungent and cheese-like.

I have not looked for them specifically but am told that you can buy these eggs in American Chinese markets where they are called Pine Flower Eggs.

The Chinese love eggs of all kinds. Here's a quicker way to enjoy an authentic Chinese delicacy—Tea or Marbled Eggs. They have a lovely marbled pattern and a subtle, smoky flavor.

China and Hong Kong on Global Gourmet's Destinations


Tea or Marbled Eggs

Cover eggs with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the eggs, but keep the water in the pot. Cool the eggs under cold running water.

Meanwhile, bring 3 to 4 cups of the water to a boil and add 3 tablespoons black tea and 1 tablespoon salt. Crackle the eggshells all over (roll them on the counter) without removing their shells and simmer with the tea mixture, covered, about 45 minutes or until the shells turn brown. Turn off the heat and let the eggs stand another 30 minutes.

Serve them as a snack or take them on a picnic. Store them in their shells.


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This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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