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Oolong Tea - General Info and Health Benefits

Types of Oolongs

Oolong teas are such a complex category that we have divided this information into major groupings, in line with our store offerings:

General Description

Teas are made from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) or one of its varietals, cultivars, or clonals. Oolongs are a category of teas that are distinguished by the amount of oxidation allowed of the tea leaves. Many are also made from specific cultivars. For true connoisseurs, both those items plus the amount of roasting after oxidation are the determining factors in what separates the good from the bad oolongs.

See also: Types of Tea and the Role of Oxidation

Harvesting and Production

tea-plantation-nannuo-mountain-and-the-tea-plantation-390x238a.jpgHarvesting and production methods for oolongs is about as varied as the teas themselves. Some tea plants are cultivated, others are wild-growing either due to being abandoned over time or by taking root by natural processes and thriving. Hand harvesting is common with some mechanized harvesting being used. The cultivated plants are usually kept pruned short enough to be harvested from the ground. The wild plants have usually grown up into a tree and have to be climbed. Cultivated tea plants are sometimes protected with walls and fences since they are very important to the economy of the region.

Processing involves great skill and tea mastery, often taking years to master. The leaves are graded and sorted, then withered, making them pliable (less moisture renders the leaves limp). Next comes the rolling where oils in the leaves are released and the cell walls are broken down. They are allowed to oxidize from a light level to a deep level. Finally, they are dried in ovens or pan-fired. This is the roasting phase. This can be repeated several times to achieve the desired flavors and aromas. The leaves will darken during this process.

Preparation Techniques

tea-blog-013useb2.jpgThe best way to enjoy oolong tea is loose leaf infused in a gaiwan or small teapot. An infuser is alright but can lessen the full, smooth feeling the liquid has in your mouth (the “mouthfeel”) by straining out some of the larger elements in that liquid.

The tea temperatures for infusing the leaves will vary depending on the level of oxidation and roasting of the oolong.

Steeping time can vary widely, too, and will involve some experimentation on your part, which is why we offer sample packs of some of the fine teas we carry, including oolongs.

Shop for tea sample packs

Oolongs are becoming more known for their ability to be stored and retain much of their fine flavors and also for flavor improvement over time if kept in the right environment. Part of this storage and aging capability is based on the quality of the tea you start with. More heavily roasted oolongs will store longer than the lightly roasted ones.

  • Storing for longevity – keep in an airtight container that also blocks light
  • Storing for aging – keep in an unglazed earthenware container covered with cloth or paper to block light

Read More on Our Blog

Health Benefits of Oolong Tea (based on research studies)

Research studies on the health benefits of Oolong tea (also referred to as oolong tea) reveal the tea’s potential to reverse signs of aging, facilitate weight loss, and promote overall wellness. While all teas possess similar properties including caffeine, catechins, polyphenols, and teaflavin tearubigin, that provide benefits to the human body, the quantities and percentages differ depending on the extent of oxidation during production. Therefore the health benefits of Oolong tea, which is semi-oxidized, vary from those offered by green tea with its limited processing and black tea with its extensive oxidation process.

Weight Loss

  • Scientists from Japan's University of Tokushima School of Medicine found that people who regularly consumed oolong tea experienced more than twice the calorie-burning results compared to those who drank green tea. A study published in the Journal of Medical Investigation found that women who consumed wu-long tea directly after a meal increased energy expenditure by 10%. This compared to an energy expenditure of 4% for green tea drinkers and 0 for water drinkers.
  • Researchers at the Suntory Research Center in Osaka, Japan found that drinking Oolong tea 15 minutes before eating foods high in carbohydrates curbed rises in insulin, thus reducing some of the fattening effects of carbohydrate intake.

Better Skin Condition

  • Researchers from Japan's Shiga University of Medical Science found that drinking Oolong each day helps to clear up skin problems within one month.
  • Dr. Kenichi Yanagimoto and colleagues from the University of California found that people who drank Oolong tea on a daily basis experienced a fifty-percent reduction in free radicals within 15 days. Free radicals are damaging substances in the body that contribute to signs of aging, including wrinkles and dark spots that are caused by ultra-violet rays, chemical food additives, pollution and stress.

Healthy Teeth

  • A study by the Department of Dentistry at Japan's Osaka University showed that regular consumption of oolong tea strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the build-up of plaque.

Stronger Immune System

  • According to a study published in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, test subjects who consumed Oolong were found to have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk for infections.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor to see what treatment is right for you.