2. Where does Oolong Tea originate from?
3. How is Oolong Tea cultivated and processed?
4. What are the main types of Oolong Tea?
5. What is the appearance and taste of Oolong Tea?
5. How can Oolong Tea improve your health?
Your Guide to Oolong Tea
You will, of course, have heard of Black Tea, Green Tea, and even White Tea, but have you heard of Oolong Tea? This type of tea might not be as well-known as the main three types of tea, but it has just as much to offer in terms of history, variety, taste and health benefits. This type of tea hovers somewhere between a Black Tea and a Green Tea and was originally produced in the Fujian province of China. If you are looking for an alternative type of tea that offers a fantastic taste and a potent boost to your health, you cannot go wrong with Oolong! This guide aims to provide you with a fantastic array of information relating to this type of tea, so read on to find out all there is to know about Oolong! Where does Oolong Tea originate from?
Oolong Tea actually originates from China and is one of the oldest types of tea produced from the Fujian region in the eastern parts of the country. The history of Oolong Tea is long and celebrated and today it stands as one of the most prestigious and prized varieties of tea that is produced in China and Taiwan. To truly understand why this tea is important, and why it is so revered, you should understand where it originates from and how it has evolved over time.
The Camellia Sinensis Plant
Like White Tea, Green Tea and Black Tea, Oolong Tea is grown from the Camellia Sinensis plant that was originally native to Asia and China – This plant was first discovered and cultivated in the Yunnan province and from there it was imported to other areas of the country.
The Wuyi Mountains
The history of Oolong Tea spans back thousands of years and it is said to originate from the Fujian
province and the Wuyi Mountains. It is widely believed that this type of tea was first produced during the Qing dynasty and the legend of its creation is truly interesting. As the legend goes, a farmer was picking tea leaves one day, but instead of processing the leaves immediately, he left his post to chase a wild deer. When he returned the next day, he was surprised to find that the leaves had oxidized and gave off a pleasing aroma. Continuing, as usual, he finished the processing and found that the resulting taste was pleasant and less bitter than the standard types of tea that he created. Thus, Oolong Tea was born!
While this origin story may not be wholly true, the idea is not beyond the regions of possibility and the story only adds to the legendary status of Oolong Tea. As the processing techniques became widespread, Oolong Tea was produced throughout the Fujian province and the Wuyi Mountains. This area of Fujian is full of mountains, the highest of which is Mount Huanggang – The conditions in this mountainous area are perfect for the growth of the tea plant and the production of Oolong Tea.
Modern producing regions/nations
Oolong Tea is now produced in other countries and the main producer other than China is Taiwan. Oolong Tea was imported to Taiwan in the 19th century by merchant traders – Seeds of the tea plant were sold and it proved to be a hugely successful venture. Taiwan is now the second largest producer of Oolong Tea and has some truly renowned blends. Both India and Vietnam also have their own varieties of Oolong Tea but do not produce it in the same quantities as the main exporters.
How is Oolong Tea cultivated and processed?
Now that you understand where Oolong Tea originates from, it is beneficial to learn how it is processed – From the moment it is taken from the Camellia Sinensis plant to its packaging and delivery to the end customer. Oolong Tea is produced in a strict method that contains at least 6 specific steps – Each step must be performed to the highest degree of efficiency to ensure that the resulting tea has the correct flavor and constitution. The 6 steps listed below are the common practices involved with the creation of Oolong tea although regional differences may be apparent.
Step 1 – Harvesting
Generally, Oolong Tea leaves are hand-picked from the Camellia Sinensis plant between three and four times per year. The leaves are usually allowed to mature and are only picked when the buds have grown to at least half the size of the leaf. Spring and summer produced the best quality Oolong, and Autumn is generally the lowest quality product.
Step 2 – Withering
Once the leaves have been carefully harvested, a stringent withering process is then carried out. This withering process aims to remove any excess moisture from the leaves. In essence, the leaves are laid out on traditional bamboo mats and left to wither naturally. As the moisture evaporates from the leaves, they become soft and lose some of their luster and springiness.
Step 3 – Oxidation
This process is also known as bruising and is where the leaves obtain their darker coloration and stronger flavor. This is the most important part of the process and can take up to 10 hours depending on the desired final strength. During the oxidation stage, the leaves are repeatedly spread out, shaken, gathered together, and spread out again – This process helps slow down the chemical changes within the leaves.
Step 4 – Rolling
Once the leaves have oxidized sufficiently and achieve the desired consistency and appearance they are then rolled and shaped. The tea leaves are usually hand rolled and molded into a variety of shapes depending on the final type of tea – For example, Wuyi Rock tea has leaves that are long and curly. During the rolling process, some of the juices in the leaves are released and interact to form new compounds.
Step 5 – Baking
The final element of processing involves baking. Two stages of baking are usually undertaken, the first of which is a short process that involves exposing the leaves to a high level of heat – This baking process removes moisture, seals the final shape of the leaves and levels the chemical compounds present in the tea. Secondly, the leaves are then exposed to a low level of heat for a longer period of time (sometimes up to 7 hours). This second process strengthens both the flavor and color of the tea leaves.
Step 6 – Packaging
Once all the processing has been completed, the tea leaves are then ready to be packaged and delivered to the end customer. The leaves are first sorted and any defects or stray twigs are removed, they are then packaged into cakes or bricks and then either stored in tea-houses or delivered on to exporting plants.
As you can see, the process of creating Oolong Tea is truly involved, and the craftsmen and women who work in the processing plants are truly skilled – often the art will have been passed down for many generations and whole families might have worked in the tea industry.
What are the main types of Oolong Tea?
As you have learned, Oolong Tea is predominantly grown in China, Taiwan, and India – China has the widest range of varieties and is the largest produced, closely followed by Taiwan. To make an informed choice about which type of Oolong you would like to purchase, and to learn more about this type of tea, it is important to identify the main types of Oolong Tea and their characteristics. These 6 types of Oolong Tea are some of the most popular and revered around the world.
Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao)
Da Hong Pao is possibly the most famous and revered of the Chinese Oolong Teas. This type of tea is grown in the Wuyi Mountains which is considered to be the original location that Oolong Tea was first produced. Big Red Robe is a tea that is steeped in tradition and it is one of the most expensive teas on the market today. Its quality is second to none and the blend is only considered to be authentic if it has been grown in the Wuyi region. This tea is usually reserved for special occasions – usually when the Chinese invite guests into their home.
Golden Water Turtle (Shui Jin Gui)
Another wonderful Chinese Oolong Tea, the Golden Water Turtle blend produces a bright green beverage that is not like other types of Oolong. This tea is also grown in the Wuyi Mountains in eastern China and its leaves have a lighter coloration than Da Hong Pao. Golden Water Turtle also exhibits a slightly lighter taste than other Oolong’s and has hints of chocolate and a sweet aftertaste,
Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tieguanyin)
This type of tea is one of the few Chinese Oolong Teas that is not grown in the Wuyi Mountain region – it is however still grown in the Fujian province. Tieguanyin is steeped in legend and mystery and it is named after the Chinese goddess of Mercy. This tea is grown and processed in the Anxi County of the Fujian province and features a fantastic taste bursting with flavor. Furthermore, it is an extremely healthy type of Oolong Tea that contains a high concentration of vitamins and amino acids.
Golden Cassia (Huangjin)
Huangjin is a premium variety of Oolong Tea that is also grown in the Anxi County of the Fujian province of eastern China. The tea is named after the golden coloration of its leaves and has a delightful floral flavor that is not typical of the usual stronger tasting Oolong Tea. The lighter and floral flavor is due to the minimal oxidation process that the tea is put through.
Frozen Summit (Dongding)
This is one of the most famous types of Taiwanese Oolong Teas and it is created using Camellia Sinensis plants that were imported from the Fujian province in China. This type of Oolong tea is now grown in Lugu region of the Nantou County of Taiwan. Frozen Summit is processed using traditional methods but exhibits a taste that is deep, woody and toasty due to slight variations in the firing and baking process.
Darjeeling is a famous type of Black Tea grown in India. Darjeeling Oolong offers a lighter flavor than Black Tea and can have hints of muscatel. Strict growing and processing conditions are required to create this type of Oolong Tea, and not all standard Darjeeling plants are equipped to create Oolong.
There are much more types of authentic Oolong Tea available and a wide range of different flavors, qualities, and aromas. If you want the highest quality Oolong Tea, then it is advisable to stick with the Chinese or Taiwanese types as they have perfect and refined the production process for hundreds of years.
What is the appearance and taste of Oolong Tea?
Once you fully understand the history of Oolong Tea and the main varieties at your disposal, you can now
look to its actual taste, appearance, and flavor. This is important so you can make an informed decision and choose a type of Oolong Tea that you will find pleasant and palatable. Oolong Tea is generally considered to have a more palatable taste that is not as strong as true Black Tea. When considered the taste and appearance, it is always advisable to think about the regional and national variations – A Chinese Oolong Tea, for example, may have different characteristics to a Taiwanese Oolong Tea.
What do Oolong Tea leaves look like?
As with most types of tea that are derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant, the leaves of Oolong Tea have a beautiful light green coloration when they are still attached to the plant. The tea fields that grow Oolong stretch for miles and it is a truly fantastic site to see the rows and rows of bright green plants in bloom. Once the leaves have been harvested and processed, they take on an entirely different appearance, however. The oxidation and withering process that Oolong Tea undergoes turns the leaves a truly dark shade of brown. This shade can vary however and some Oolongs are extremely dark green, while others are almost black. Oolong Tea is also known as Black Dragon Tea due to the black coloration and elongated curly shape of the leaves.
What does a brew of Oolong Tea look like?
When Oolong Tea is brewed, the resulting drink is a pleasant light color – You would think that the dark leaves would produce a dark drink, but the opposite is true. Most types of Oolong Tea will create a brew that has a pale-yellow coloration that is quite similar to white tea.
How does Oolong Tea taste?
The taste of Oolong Tea can be truly varied due to the wide range of different processes, growing conditions and climate involved in the production of the tea. Regional variations will always create a flavor and aroma that varies. Generally, the flavor of Oolong is considered to be stronger than both Green and White teas, but not as strong as the highly oxidized Black Tea. True types of Oolong will exhibit a flavor that is earthy, woody with faint grassy undertones.
Some varieties of Oolong that are less oxidized can have a lighter and sweeter taste with floral overtones. While other varieties of Oolong Tea that are oxidized for longer have a much stronger taste that is smoky and more akin to Black Tea. Generally, Oolong Tea is one of the most palatable teas and it is usually drunk without any additives – Milk and sugar do not really enhance the flavor in any way.
How can Oolong Tea improve your health?
Oolong Tea is one of the healthiest types of tea available and it contains a huge number of beneficial nutrients, minerals, and compounds. As with most types of tea, the leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant are supremely healthy, and the oxidation process that Oolong Tea is put through helps protect the leaves beneficial properties. Now that you understand where Oolong Tea originated from, how it is processed, and what the main varieties are, it is ideal to learn how this type of tea can improve your own health.
Oolong Tea can contribute to weight loss
Many people struggle to lose weight and fight a continual struggle to get the right balance of diet and exercise. Excess weight can lead to other health complications and it is in everyone’s best interest to try and keep their weight to a minimum. Oolong Tea can actually help weight loss – This type of tea contains Polyphenols that are a compound that can help control our metabolism and aid the process of burning fat. Furthermore, Oolong Tea can also help lower LDL cholesterol levels in our body which can directly aid weight loss.
Oolong Tea can improve your mental function
Mental stress can put a huge strain on our body and can cause adverse effects such as anxiety and sleep disorders. Oolong Tea can improve your mental function and alertness and help reduce stress levels. This is due to the caffeine content in Oolong Tea – Fear not, the caffeine content in this type of tea is not as high or potent as coffee and generally does not give you the associated come down that coffee usually does.
Oolong Tea can improve your digestion
Our digestive system is extremely important for the processing of food and drink. Without a working digestive system, our body may not receive the beneficial nutrients and minerals it needs, and filter out our waste products. Oolong Tea can help neutralize our digestive tract and reduce any build-up of acid. Furthermore, Oolong Tea can also flush out your stomach and reduce the number of bacteria present.
Oolong Tea can improve the quality of your skin
If you suffer from skin complaints or have poor quality skin, Oolong Tea can help improve your complexion and reduce the effects and pain of such conditions as eczema. Furthermore, the antioxidants present in Oolong Tea can restore the healthy glow to your skin and improve your complexion.
Oolong Tea can improve your immune system
Our immune system is our primary defense against illness and disease. Without a strong immune system, we could fall prey to a variety of different ailments and our body would become weak. Oolong Tea can give our immune system a boost due to the variety of different vitamins, nutrients, and minerals it contains. Furthermore, this type of tea is high in anti-bacterial proteins which help our immune system fight infection.
Oolong Tea can strengthen your teeth
Our teeth are the primary (and only) means we have of chewing food – Without our teeth, we would have to eat everything in liquid form! Keeping your teeth strong and healthy is hugely important and you should always strive to brush them regularly and use mouthwash. As an additional form of protection, Oolong Tea can help strengthen our teeth and prevent tooth decay – Oolong Tea can flush out the toxins in our mouth and remove any harmful bacteria that could cause tooth cavities.
Oolong Tea can also help regulate blood sugars and improve the strength of our bones. It really is a healthy beverage that can contribute to an improvement in your quality of life. Always remember to complement this by trying to eat healthily and exercise as often as possible!
By reading this comprehensive guide, you should have learned all you need to know about Oolong Tea. Furthermore, you should now realize how fantastic it is, and the plethora of different benefits it can provide. This Tea is one of the finest creations to emerge from China, and the Wuyi Mountain range has become famous as a result. Oolong Tea continues to be popular throughout the world and is considered one of the finest types of tea that connoisseur can drink.