What is Oolong Tea ?
In terms of processing-
Oolongs are partially oxidized (not either fully oxidized as black teas or barely oxidized as green teas). Here, the fermentation process is halted as soon as the tea leaves start to change their color.
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 flavor-
Oolongs that sit perfectly between black and green teas have a subtle combination of woodsy flavor profile of black teas and grassy flavor of green teas. However, as mentioned earlier, the flavor 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 one that is widely popular 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 flavor 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 there are many other stories 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 flavor and aroma that oolongs are famous for.
What Makes Oolongs So Great ?
What Makes Oolongs So Great? Since Oolong has both the characteristics of black and green teas, it also borrows their health beneficial properties. This makes Oolong tea one of the most health beneficial teas.
Oolong tea is packed with traces of vital vitamins, minerals, and detoxifying agents that are proven to be best for human body- Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Copper, and Carotin. Oolong tea also contains caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline which on moderate consumption helps boost your metabolism and acts as a stress reliever.
It is recommended to 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 flavor 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.
- Bring 180 ml of drinking water to boil to a temperature of around 85 – 90 * C.
- Measure 2.5 gram of tea and gently put it in the teacup containing recently boiled water or in a tea pot. 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.
Do Not :
1. Pour boiling water over the leaves as it burns the leaves giving off unusual bitterness.
2. 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.