After ad goes viral, hotel in China denies it is selling boiled eggs for US$421

Staff claim advertisement for luxury tea egg offer is a hoax

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 9:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 9:32pm

A hotel in eastern China has denied it is selling specially cooked boiled eggs – a popular street food that usually costs 1 yuan (15 US cents) – for an eye-watering 2,899 yuan (US$421) each.

But according to an advertisement that has been widely shared online, Toaytt Hotel and Resorts in Wuxi, Jiangsu province said it would supply the luxury tea eggs during a special offer.

“We use eggs from free-range chickens living at an altitude of 1,140 metres [3,740ft] and boil them in top-quality Jin Jun Mei tea leaves,” the ad states, referring to a premium black tea. “The eggs all go through 24 hours of stewing and 12 hours of standing” before they are served.

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Tea eggs are a common snack food in China made by cracking the shell of a boiled egg then boiling it again in tea, sauce or spices and letting them steep to absorb the flavour.

The ad said the hotel also added Chinese herbal medicines during the boiling process.

According to a video posted by BTime, hotel staff said they had only made 100 of the luxury tea eggs and they had already sold all of them.

But when contacted by the South China Morning Post, two hotel employees who declined to be named said the advertisement was a hoax. One of them said it had been “Photoshopped” and that the hotel was not selling tea eggs at that price. The second staff member also said the special offer did not exist.

An employee at the Wuxi pricing authority hotline said they were not aware of the ad.

On Saturday, the advertisement was the most popular search topic of the day on Chinese search engine Baidu, and a hot topic on social media.

“A tea egg for half my monthly salary? … Poverty has truly limited my imagination,” one person wrote on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Average annual disposable income in China was 14,063 yuan in the first six months of this year, or 2,343 yuan per month, according to government data.

It is not the first case of tea eggs being offered at exorbitant prices in China. Online tea company Efuton lists tea eggs made by one of the company’s founders for 1,088 yuan.

Li Xiaojun, chief executive of the tea brand based in Hangzhou, said he started experimenting with tea eggs after a Taiwanese academic claimed on television that mainland Chinese were too poor to afford them.

“My tea eggs are the best in history, ” Li wrote on his microblog account. “[But] the eggs for 2018 have all been eaten – you’ll have to wait till next year if you want one.”

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He is not the only one who has been trying to perfect the recipe. In the city of Dongyang, in Zhejiang, eggs are boiled in the urine of young boys every spring in an annual tradition. The “virgin boy eggs” are still affordable though, with each one sold for around 1.50 yuan.