The Story of Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea, one of the most valued tea types in countries like China and Taiwan, is somewhat underrated in most countries because Black, Green, and White teas dominate the market.
Though Oolongs come from the same Camellia Sinensis plant (just as the other tea types), they only contribute to below 3% of the world’s tea. However, its increasing popularity among tea drinkers worldwide has positively affected its demand and production.
Fujian and Guangdong provinces in China and Taiwan are the major regions that produce oolong teas. However, countries like India, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and few others also have come up with their unique variants of Oolong teas that are of good quality.
What is Oolong Tea?
Simply put, it is a tea that falls somewhere in between Black tea and Green tea.
1. In terms of processing: Oolongs are partially oxidized (not either fully oxidized as black teas or barely oxidized as green teas). Here, as soon as the tea leaves start to change their colour, the fermentation process is stopped. However, depending on the region and popularity, some oolongs are more inclined towards black teas, and some towards green teas.
2. In terms of appearance: Oolongs are long strands of whole leaves that are hand-rolled and curled/twisted to give them their appearance. Some manufacturers prefer to roll them into balls.
3. In terms of flavour: Oolongs that sit perfectly between black and green teas have a subtle combination of the woodsy flavour profile of black teas and the grassy flavour of green teas. However, as mentioned earlier, the flavour and appearance of the Oolongs can be altered (either towards black or green teas) depending on the region they are grown, manufacturer’s preference, popularity and demand.
The Tale of Origin
The origin of oolong tea dates back almost 400 years when it was gaining wide popularity in China. There are many stories as to how and when Oolongs were discovered. But the widely popular one takes place during the Qing dynasty. This is a story of a Chinese tea farmer, Wu Liang (also known as ‘Wulong’ or ‘Oolong’), who is believed to have discovered this tea type by accident.
One day, while picking the teas, Wu Liang was distracted by a deer and went after it to hunt. The farmer, after a tiring day, decided to return to his tea leaves the next day. Upon returning, he found that his teas were already withering and started to oxidize partially. The farmer was surprised with the wonderful aroma that the leaves were giving off. Upon processing the leaves, the aroma was enhanced, and the flavour was sweet and did not have much of bitterness though it was strong. After this discovery, the tea was named after his nick name ‘Oolong’.
Though many other stories are debating on the origin and discovery of this tea, one fact remains certain- It is the unique geography, climatic conditions, and environment that contribute to the rich flavour and aroma that oolongs are famous for.
What Makes Oolong Teas So Great?What Makes Oolongs So Great? Since Oolong has the characteristics of both black and green teas, it also borrows their health beneficial properties. Therefore, Oolong tea is one of the most health-beneficial teas.
Oolong tea is packed with traces of vital vitamins, minerals, and detoxifying agents like Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Copper, and Carotin that are best for the human body. Oolong tea also contains caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline that helps boost your metabolism and relieve stress.
Steeping Oolongs Teas
We recommend you steep loose Oolong tea leaves rather than Oolongs in tea bags. The limited area of teabags makes it difficult for the long leaves to expand fully, which may not provide the flavour that can be achieved from steeping loose leaves. Also, the chances of long leaves breaking into smaller pieces are higher in teabags. If teabags are your preferred choice, go for pyramid teabags that provide more space for the leaves to expand than the traditional teabags.Steeping Info:
- Bring 180 ml of drinking water to boil to a temperature of around 85 – 90 * C.
- Measure 2.5 grams of tea and gently put it in the teacup containing recently boiled water or in a teapot. You can also use strainers for easy steeping.
- Make sure to close the lid as it traps the aroma and doesn’t let the water cool faster than required.
- Wait for 3 – 4 minutes before straining the leaves.
- Pour the liquor in a cup/take out the strainer, and let the liquor cool for some time.
- Drink plain (recommended). However, some people like it with a dash of sugar or honey.
- Pour boiling water over the leaves as it burns the leaves giving off unusual bitterness.
- Steep over 5 minutes unless you like extremely bitter tea.
Lastly, one of the best things about Oolong is that you can brew this tea 2 – 3 times depending on the profile of the particular Oolong.