What is oolong tea and what are its benefits? And why should you drink it? Tea culture is full of fascinating facts about the humble but powerful tea leaf. From black tea to green tea to white tea, faithful consumers of the ancient beverage can name a whole list of health benefits associated with tea.
It’s common knowledge these days that adding tea to your regular diet can greatly improve your health in many ways. Most people tend to drink black tea for everyday consumption or green tea for its specific health benefits. But oolong tea is a step between the two.
What is oolong tea and what can it do for you? Oolong is fermented longer than green tea, but not as long as black tea. The result is a tasty and healthy beverage that retains many of the health benefits of green tea.
Specifically, oolong tea is prized for its ability to help dieters shed weight. Its weight-loss properties are thought to be more powerful than those of green tea and far more powerful than black tea. Below are just a few of the reported health benefits of this ancient healthy beverage.
Origin of the Oolong Tea
The tea is said to have originated in Fujian, China around 400 years ago. It was grown and produced around the end of the Ming Dynasty in Mt. Wu Yi Shan, a mountain range in Fujian Province. As all other teas, Oolong came from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis, but its tree produces different kinds of leaves and buds which is why there are also a lot of varieties of this tea. The Oolong leaves are long and dark in color and they look like black dragons, from which its name originated, oolong means black dragon in Chinese.
Oolong Tea Types
Because of its popularity, some varieties of Oolong tea (also known as Wu long) are now being grown in Taiwan and Japan. In China alone, there are several varieties or blends of Oolong such as:
- Wu Yi Tea
- Da Hong Pao ( also called Big Red Robe)
- Feng Huang – Shui Xian ( also called Water Fairy)
- Yong Chun – Fo Shou (also known as Buddha’s Hand)
- An Xi – Tie Guan Yin (also called Goddess of Mercy)
How Oolong Tea is Made
The process of making this tea is backed by age-old traditions and exceptional expertise and production is done in several stages.
First stage: the tea leaves are selected and picked in the early morning composing of one bud and three leaves per unit. They are then placed outdoors under the sun.
Second stage: the tea leaves and buds are brought indoors to start fermentation. The tea is semi-fermented in which case fermentation has to be stopped at some point and this is very crucial. Knowing when the oxidation process should be stopped will depend on expertise and experience and when the leaves are about 70% green and 30% red. When oxidation has been stopped it is then time to generate the unique qualities of oolong through rubbing the tea leaves together to bring out its unique aroma, flavor and texture. The final step for the second stage is charcoal drying the tea leaves.
Final stage: the semi-fermented and charcoal dried tea leaves are graded by tea masters who will determine the grade of the batches of tea depending on the quality of its flavor and characteristics. Oolong has a distinct flavor, both fresh and strong, without the bitterness often associated with tea.
The Art of Drinking Oolong Tea
Through the centuries, the tea’s distinct and unique flavor and aroma has been highly valued and because of this an art of drinking the tea was developed by the ancient Chinese and it is still being practiced to this day. To enjoy drinking Oolong, it should be brewed and drank using a tiny teapot and teacup. The art is still being used by the Chinese in preparing and drinking their Oolong. However, in the modern setting, there is no need for elaborate preparations because there are already canned and bottled Oolong which can be enjoyed as soon as you open the can or uncap the bottle.
With all these facts and information about Oolong, it is not really something mysterious. Where the mystery lies is in the host of health benefits that a tea drinker gets from this semi-fermented tea. This is what the hype is all about and the only mystery behind Oolong tea is in its health and weight loss properties.
Amazing Oolong Tea Health Benefits
Slowing of the Aging Process
The high levels of polyphenols in oolong tea help slow down the aging process of the skin and organs. Polyphenols fight free radicals, which can cause unwanted pigmentation and liver spots on the skin. Free radicals also cause wrinkles and other skin problems.
Free radicals are additionally responsible for other conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. A diet including oolong tea and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can help to counteract the effects of free radicals. Within just a month of starting a daily oolong-drinking regimen, you may notice an improvement in your skin.
Improved Teeth Health
The polyphenols in oolong also kill bacteria in the mouth. Oolong tea drinkers may notice a decrease in cavities and gum disease. Drinking oolong tea following oral surgery may help to speed up healing time.
A Smaller Waistline
Although it is still being studied, the weight loss power of oolong has been in the spotlight for quite some time. It is said to be one of the most powerful natural fat-fighters available today. Numerous celebrities have stepped forward to offer their endorsement of this healthy beverage.
Polyphenols are also to thank for this health benefit. They are said to increase the enzyme that dissolves fatty deposits in the body. Oolong tea may actually help the body metabolize fat in a more effective way, resulting in a sleeker silhouette for those who drink it regularly.
A Stronger Immune System
In tea-drinking cultures, such as in China and Japan, the overall incidence of disease seems to be much lower than ours in Western cultures. While part of the low disease occurrence is due to a healthy diet rich in whole foods, tea may also play a part. Oolong tea has been said to boost the body’s power to fight off illnesses. In fact, all teas have been said to carry this benefit for the regular drinker.
If you’re worried about the taste of this healthy hybrid tea, rest assured that you won’t be disappointed. Oolong lacks the heady vegetable flavor of green tea, but is not quite as strong as black tea. Rather, it combines a somewhat bitter taste with a sweet aftertaste. The result is a flavor that is completely unique to oolong.
Like other types of teas, oolong can be consumed hot or iced. Iced oolong tea is a wonderful treat on a hot summer day. A steamy cup of hot oolong tea is a comforting, lower-caffeine substitute for coffee on a chilly morning.
With all these health benefits and an appealing taste, it’s easy to see why oolong is gaining popularity all over the world. While it still accounts for only about two percent of tea consumption worldwide, oolong is quickly becoming a favorite among dieters and health-conscious tea lovers everywhere.