Categories: Oolong tea
Tags: Beginner's Guide to Tea, caffeine content of tea, camellia sinensis, chinese teas, formosa fancy silvertips, formosan teas, Oolong tea, tea health, ti kuan yin, tung ting jade oolong, wild-grown tieguanyin, wu yi
Post date: January 7, 2009
Comments: 4 comments
This is part of an ongoing series exploring the main varieties of tea. Subscribe for free to stay updated when new posts are added.
What is oolong tea, exactly?
Like green tea, oolong tea (or wulong tea) comes from Camellia Sinensis leaves. Unlike green tea, which isn’t oxidized at all, oolong tea is partially oxidized. It receives anywhere between 10% and 80% oxidation.
Because it can be oxidized so much or so little, oolong tea is a universe unto itself. You may find that one variety of oolong tea has an amber appearance very similar to black teas, while another is golden green, practically indistinguishable from green tea infusions. The range of flavours fluctuates just as widely, from deep, rich oolongs to sweet, floral brews.
Where is oolong tea grown?
Oolong tea production makes up only a small percentage of overall tea production: around 2% of teas grown end up as oolongs. The vast majority of these oolongs come from Taiwan (Formosa) and China. A few other tea growing regions, including India, produce oolongs on a small scale, but the world’s most reputable oolongs come from China and Taiwan.
What are some of the most famous types of oolong tea?
From Taiwan, Formosa Fancy Silvertips is an oolong with 50%-60% oxidation, bearing a striking aroma and deep flavour. Tung Ting Jade is another famous Formosan variety, characterized by a fruity flavour and light green colour. Imperial Formosan is a prized oolong with a rich amber colour.
China’s most famous variety of oolong is Wu Yi, named after the Wu Yi Mountains in northern Fujian. Royal Red Robe Wu Yi Mountain comes from there and is a highly oxidized oolong (80%) that looks very similar to black tea, except for its large size. Tieguanyin is another notable oolong from China, the best of which can be infused up to fifteen times.
What’s the best way to brew oolong tea?
Oolong tea should be brewed in slightly cooled water between 82°C and 93°C (180°F – 200°F). Unlike black teas, which are best with freshly boiled water, I prefer to allow the water to cool for about a minute, defusing its intensity and allowing the flavours of the oolong to emerge nicely. However, I’d suggest varying this based on how oxidized the oolong is: if it’s highly oxidized, don’t allow the water to cool for as long, whereas with oolongs with very little oxidation, allow the water longer to cool.
Oolong tea doesn’t need a long infusion time. 90 seconds to 2 minutes is perfect, especially if you’re planning to brew the same leaves multiple times.
What are the health benefits of drinking oolong tea?
Most of the studies into the health benefits of tea have been regarding green tea, but since oolong tea is produced from the same plant, it has many of the same properties. Oolong tea reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol levels, stimulate metabolism, prevents dental decay, strengthens capillaries, eases arthritis pain, improves mental focus, inhibits Alzheimer’s disease, boosts the immune system, fights infection, improves skin health, increases bone density and improves your memory. Like green tea, oolong tea can also help in the fight against cancer.
Does oolong tea contain caffeine?
Like all teas produced from Camellia Sinensis, oolong tea contains caffeine. Since oolong tea is partly oxidized, placing it between green tea and black tea on the scale of oxidation, many people say it contains less caffeine than black tea and more than green tea. This is a generalization which doesn’t hold true all the time. Some oolongs contain less caffeine than some greens, and some blacks contain less caffeine than some oolongs. There is too much variation based on where the oolong is grown, how it is produced and how it is brewed to be able to say, definitively, how much caffeine any given cup of oolong tea contains.
More on this: How much caffeine does green tea contain?.
Where can I buy oolong tea online?
Buy Tea Online – Firsthand advice on the best websites for buying tea
- Adagio Teas have a handful of oolong offerings, including a sampler set for those who want to get acquainted with a variety of oolongs.
- Mighty Leaf have a good range of oolongs.