A powerful, licorice-flavored spice, star anise plays an important part in Oriental cooking and is grown almost exclusively in Southern China, Indo-China and Japan. The stars are available whole or ground. It flavors meat and poultry dishes and is used in confectionery and sweetmeats. Star anise is also an ingredient in a mixture known as “Chinese Five Spices” and is added to jams and fruit compotes. Anisette is a liqueur made from star anise.Star anise has many medicinal uses and of late has been touted as a major weapon against bird-flu influenza. It is the primary source of shikimic acid which is used to produce oseltamivir phosphate, sold under the brand name Tamiflu.I also used star anise in a previous post-Pears in Red Wine. The tea eggs have a subtle flavor and are delicious. It’s important that the eggs cool in the liquid.Tea Eggs1/3 cup dark soy sauce1 Tablespoon lapsang souchoug tea leaves1 star anise12 hard cooked eggs-cooled under running water, but still in their shells2 teaspoons sesame oilIn a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce, tea leaves,and star anise with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, dry the eggs off and gently roll them, using the palm of your hand, to crack the egg shell lightly until they are covered with fine cracks. Add the eggs, shell and all to the boiling liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the eggs to cool in their own liquid. After the eggs have chilled, remove the shells and coat in the sesame oil.Recipe courtesy of Emeril LagassePhotographs by Lynnylu taken with a Canon 5D.