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Urine-soaked 'virgin boy eggs' are a springtime taste treat in China

Aly Song / Reuters

51-year-old vendor Ge Yaohua eats a hard-boiled egg cooked in boys' urine at his stall in Dongyang, Zhejiang province.

DONGYANG, China - Officials in China have listed a local food delicacy of eggs soaked in boys' urine as part of the region's intangible cultural heritage.

Every spring, street vendors in the city of Dongyang sell 'virgin boy eggs' as a unique snack.


Basins and buckets of boys' urine are collected from primary school toilets. Eggs are then soaked and cooked in the urine.

There is no good explanation for why it has to be boys' urine, just that it has been so for centuries.

The scent of these eggs being cooked in pots of urine is unmistakable as people pass the many street vendors in Dongyang who sell it, claiming it has remarkable health properties.

Aly Song / Reuters

A vendor pours a bucket of boys' urine into a pot of hard-boiled eggs.

"If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke. These eggs cooked in urine are fragrant," said Ge Yaohua, 51, who owns one of the more popular "virgin boy eggs" stalls.

"They are good for your health. Our family has them for every meal. In Dongyang, every family likes eating them."

It takes nearly an entire day to make these unique eggs, starting off by soaking and then boiling raw eggs in a pot of urine. After that, the shells of the hard-boiled eggs are cracked and they continue to simmer in urine for hours.

Vendors have to keep pouring urine into the pot and controlling the fire to keep the eggs from being overheated and overcooked.

Ge said he has been making the snack, popular due to its fresh and salty taste, for more than 20 years. Each egg goes for 1.50 yuan ($0.24), a little more than twice the price of the regular eggs he also sells.

Many Dongyang residents, young and old, said they believed in the tradition passed on by their ancestors that the eggs decrease body heat, promote better blood circulation and just generally reinvigorate the body.

Aly Song / Reuters

51-year-old vendor Ge Yaohua shows the inside of a hard-boiled egg cooked in boys' urine at his stall

"By eating these eggs, we will not have any pain in our waists, legs and joints. Also, you will have more energy when you work," said Li Yangzhen, 59, who bought 20 eggs from Ge.

The eggs are not bought only at street stalls. Local residents are also known to personally collect boys' urine from nearby schools to cook the delicacy in their homes.

The popularity of the treat has led the local government to list the "virgin boy eggs" as an intangible cultural heritage.

Aly Song / Reuters

51-year-old vendor Ge Yaohua (R) passes a bag of hard-boiled eggs cooked in boys' urine to a customer holding her baby on a street in Dongyang, Zhejiang province.

But not everyone is a fan. Chinese medical experts gave mixed reviews about the health benefits of the practice, with some warning about sanitary issues surrounding the use of urine to cook the eggs.

Some Dongyang residents also said they hated the eggs.

"We have this tradition in Dongyang that these eggs are good for our health and that it would help prevent things like getting a cold," said Wang Junxing, 38. "I don't believe in all this, so I do not eat them."