Oolong TeaPublished:August 4th, 2010
What is Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea has a unique processing technique, combining the finishing techniques for green tea with fermentation typical of dark tea. The tea leaves are green in the middle and red near the edges. Redness is due to the fermentation process.
The Tie Guanyin, or Iron Goddess is one of the most famous varieties of this tea, and another one is High Mountain Oolong.
Oolong tea is picked in April or May, later than white, yellow or green tea. Thus, the leaves are larger and more durable to withstand the specific processing. Because they are picked later, the leaves have more aromatic oils which are enhanced by the processing techniques, mainly oxidation.
The fresh leaves are picked, left out in the sun to wither for a few hours. Then they are left in bamboo trays in a room with controlled temperature to oxidize. Then the tea is exposed to heat to stop oxidation, then shaped and roasted to dry.
Health Benefits of Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is rich in anti-oxidants and polyphenols that can strengthen the immune system, destroy free radicals and help with weight loss. Oolong tea helps with slowing the aging process, lowering blood pressure and helping digestion.
History of Oolong Tea
Oolong means Black Dragon, wu-long in Chinese. Chinese tea was a tribute tea, cultivated and processed for being used by the emperor. Wulong is an oolong tea plant with leaves up to ten centimetres long and with twenty sub-varieties. Tea masters are professionals responsible for grading the quality of oolong tea, and there are only twenty such tea masters in the province.
Oolong tea started to be produced in Fujian province at the end of Ming Dynasty, four hundred years ago. The art of drinking oolong tea was developed in order to enjoy the flavour and aroma that are unique to oolong tea.
Oolong tea is harvested and processed by hand, the tea bushes growing in a soil which is rich in minerals. The region is free of pollution and the air and water are said to be among the cleanest in the world. It has been officially designated as a bio-reserve. This makes wu-lung tea very pure, having high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants.
Best Way to Drink Oolong Tea
Oolongs are teas that are between green and black varieties and differ in oxidation, ranging from 15 to 75%. The length of oxidation influences the taste and caffeine content of the tea, the colour of the leaf and the tea’s character. Oolong tea is half way between green tea and black tea, being half-fermented. It is best to drink oolong tea from a clay cup.