Oolong tea, made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant which also gives us black and green tea is a traditional semi-oxidized tea made by withering the plant in direct sunlight and then oxidizing it before curling and twisting it. Oolong tea is neither a black nor a green tea and is often classified as a distinct form of tea. This is due to the oxidation and shape of the leaves.
The process of oxidation causes the green tea leaves to turn into a deep black colour. Green tea isn’t allowed to oxidise much, but black tea is oxidised until it’s completely black. Since oolong tea is halfway between the two, it is partly oxidised. The flavour of oolong tea can vary greatly. Depending on the horticulture and style of processing, they can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, woody and dense with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with complex aromas. While different oolong varieties are processed differently, the leaves are typically shaped into one of two styles. Some are ‘wrap-curled’ into small beads with tails, while others are rolled into long curly leaves.
Types of Oolong Tea:
- Dao Hong Pao: Da Hong Pao which originated in the Fujian province of China is green and brown in colour and has the appearance of tightly knotted ropes or slightly twisted strips. It has a unique orchid fragrance and a long-lasting sweet aftertaste. After brewing, the tea is orange-yellow, bright and clear. In comparison to other teas, Da Hong Pao can be steeped nine times without losing its taste.
- Dong Ding: Dong Ding is an Oolong tea from Taiwan. It gets the name from its namesake mountain where it is cultivated. Its cultivation roots back to 150 years when it was first brought from China’s Fujian Province. It is usually 15-30% oxidized, sometimes over charcoal giving the tea a toasty, woody flavour.
- Darjeeling Oolong: This variety of Oolong originates in Darjeeling, India. After rolling, the leaves are allowed to oxidise on trays before being fired to reduce the moisture level to about 2% and seal the ruptures, which will be reopened with hot water from the customer.
- Assam Smoked Oolong: Assam Smoked Oolong is a highly unusual and rare oak-smoked tea from Assam, India. The liquor has a lovely smoky aroma. The empyreumatic, sweet and malty character has notes of apricots and tobacco. Its aroma is very similar to a good single malt whisky.
A cup of brewed Oolong tea contains approximately 36 mg of Caffeine which may vary based on the region and production process. A mildly oxidised oolong (similar to green tea) may have lower caffeine levels, whereas a heavily oxidised oolong (similar to black tea) may have higher caffeine levels.
5 Benefits of Oolong Tea:
- Oolong Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes: Polyphenol antioxidants present in Oolong tea can aid in the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels and the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The evidence is; however, mixed, and further research is required.
- Oolong Tea May Help You Lose Weight: Oolong tea contains a mixture of caffeine and polyphenols that may help you burn more calories and fat each day. This could help you lose weight faster in the long run.
- Oolong Tea May Improve Brain Function: Oolong tea’s caffeine, antioxidant, and theanine content can help to improve brain function and mood.
- Oolong Tea May Improve Heart Health: One study of more than 76,000 Japanese adults observed that those who drank 240 ml or more of oolong tea per day had a 61% lower heart disease risk. In addition, regular consumption of a cup of Oolong tea may decrease one’s chances of developing high blood pressure by up to 46%.
- Oolong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength: Oolong tea can increase bone mineral density. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel.
How to brew the perfect Oolong Iced tea:
- Pour the near-boiling water over the oolong leaves in a pot.
- Steep for approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the tea leaves.
- Add honey and lemon as per your preference and stir.
- Serve tea over ice.
Note: Don’t brew Oolong leaves in boiling water, as it may result in a bitter taste. In such a scenario, add milk to make it into a shake.
You can buy Classic Oolong tea from ChaiAroma here.