8 eggs, any size
2 tea bags of black tea
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 pieces star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorn (optional)
2 to 3 strips dried mandarin peel (optional)
Add enough water to a medium pot to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 10 minutes, until the eggs are hard-boiled.
Remove the eggs with a strainer and run under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Tap the eggs with the back of a butter knife to crack them evenly all around, being careful not to peel off the shells. Return the eggs to the pot.
In the same pot, add the tea bags, soy sauce, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and orange peel (if using). Add enough water to cover the eggs by an inch. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Allow the eggs to simmer for 1 to 2 hours, longer for a more intense flavor and color.
Remove from the heat and drain the eggs, saving a little of the liquid to serve with the eggs if you choose. You can either peel and serve the eggs immediately or store them in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly covered container. Serve as a snack as-is or as an addition to rice or noodles.