Chinese Tea Eggs

12 eggs
2 Tbs salt
4 Tbs soy sauce
2 whole (or 16 sections) star anise*
2 Tbs Szechwan peppercorns* or black peppercorns
3 tea bags

* Available in finer supermarkets and Asian specialty shops.

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with 4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Drain the eggs and cover with cold water. Allow the eggs to sit in the cold water until they have cooled to room temperature. Drain the eggs again. Gently tap the eggs on the counter to crack the shell all over, until the eggs are covered by a network of fine cracks. Return the eggs to the pan and add 4 cups water along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 hours, adding additional water as necessary to keep them covered. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to steep in the liquid for at least 8 hours. To serve, peel the eggs and cut in half or quarters. The whites of the eggs should be marbled with dark lines from the cooking liquid.

Yield: 12 Eggs