Oolong Tea: Its Origin, Types and Preparation

Sat, Feb 11, 2017

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea variety that lies somewhere between the highly fermented black tea and the un-fermented green tea. The process of making oolong differs so widely from one tea cultivator to another that the fermentation level varies from 8% to 70% or even higher in some types. Some oolong varieties are fruity in taste while others can be woody with roasted aromas.

Due to its intriguing differences in flavor and aroma, oolong is one of the most popular tea varieties all over the world. Discussed below are various aspects of oolong tea such as it origin, several different varieties, methods of preparation and the best method of consumption.

Origin of Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is a well-known Chinese tea which is traditionally made from withering the plant and facilitating oxidation till the leaves become dark and shrivel or curl up. Legend holds that oolong tea was first grown in the Wuyi mountain region. Another popular folklore holds that the tea derives its name from the person to whom its discovery is attributed. However, the truth is that the origin of oolong tea is still shrouded in mystery.

How is Oolong Produced?

Oolong tea has a distinct process through which it is produced and made ready for consumption. Firstly, the leaves are picked when they are ready and laid under a strong sun to wither. When all the moisture has evaporated from the leaves, they are tossed and left to oxidize. The time taken for this depends on whether the leaves are to be partially or fully oxidized.

After the oxidization is complete, the tea leaves are steamed or hand pressed in a hot pan while taking care not to damage them. When the leaves are completely without moisture, they are fired or roasted in a pan for a distinct smoky flavor.

Traditional Oolong Tea Preparation

As mentioned before, oolong tea can have varying levels of caffeine dependent on the maker. The caffeine content depends on the oxidization of the tea leaves after withering which can differ from one oolong tea estate to the next. However, there are some ways to reduce the caffeine level of oolong tea by following certain methods of careful preparation.

In China, there is a method of tea-making known as Gong Fung Cha or Tea with Great Skill. The name of this method is in compliance with its actual practice as indeed great skill is required to follow it properly. In this method, the preparation is highly controlled and nothing is left up to chance. This method is characterized by tiny teapots, multiple brews, some of which last only a few seconds. This method intensifies the flavor and reduces the caffeine content. Due to this, this method is very different from the one followed in the west which attempts to keep the caffeine level as high as possible.

Oolong tea has several health benefits and is often consumed for its vast medicinal and healing properties. With the right brew and amount of consumption, this tea can help combat obesity, manage unhealthy blood pressure and help symptoms of diabetes. You can also enjoy metabolism and improved energy by drinking oolong tea!