Medicine for Body and Soul. All You need to Know about Oolong Tea
Tea is medicine for mind, body and soul. Chinese people have a certain respect when talking about oolong tea because it was the official royal beverage. Discover the magic in oolong!
Oolong tea represents one of the most popular tea varieties from China. Oolong tea is born from the same tea plant known as Camellia Sinensis like any other tea variety. What makes it different is the processing and the fermentation that tea leaves go through in order to become a certain tea type. Oolong is the only tea variety which passes through a broad range fermentation process, beginning with 10 percent up to 85 percent fermentation, being somewhere between the unfermented green tea and fermented black tea. This tea is also known as “Wu long”, which from Chinese to English would translate as “Black Dragon”.
Oolong tea has an important role to play when it comes to preventing certain diseases. About oolong tea it is believed that it has an important role in reduction of cholesterol level, preservation of heart’s health, treatment for digestive problems and even strengthening of the immune system and it also plays a part in the formation of strong bones. It definitely sounds like medicine in a cup.
Why Is Oolong Tea So Special? A Little Bit of History
Just like the other sister-varieties of tea, oolong tea as it is known today, represents a result of centuries of evolution and perfecting. It has originated in Fujian province of China, a very famous region for its teas, during the Tang Dynasty. Its first name was in fact “beiyun tea” and due to its truly unique flavor and characteristics it was the first type of tea to make its way as a tribute tea.
What does tribute tea mean? It was an old Chinese custom in which producing regions of tea were selected to deliver special varieties of tea as a gift for the royal court. This was a remarkable “marketing strategy”, because being chosen to produce tea for the royal court meant a great honor. This third party endorsement strategy (as PR and marketing professionals would call it today) was a great win for the business itself, making it more visible and much more appreciated.
“Tea … is a religion of the art of life.” (Kakuzō Okakura)
As time passed, the Fujian region became more and more popular among government officials, monks and scholars who started by visiting the region and afterwards even emigrating there. The taste of the tea found in this region was so strong and flavored, which made them enthusiastic about this new kind of tea.
At the time in China the only popular tea was the green tea, so oolong tea gave to these people a hall new perspective about the beverage. As a result of this moving and new born enthusiasm, this kind of tea became really popular. The tribute custom continued throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties, between 1368 and 1911. In 1796, oolong tea traveled to Taiwan where today is well known and produced on a large scale.
Varieties of Oolong Tea
Experimenting and searching of perfection is what triggered the evolution of the world in any area of activity, including tea production. About oolong tea now, well it became not only popular during so many centuries in China, but continuously evolved into one of the most appreciated varieties of tea around the world. While becoming more and more popular different experiments have been made so many varieties of oolong tea were created, many of them lasting until today.
Oolong Tea from China
Red Robe known in Chinese as Dà Hóng Páo. It is one of the most famous Chinese oolong teas.
The Four Great Bushes known in Chinese as Sì Dà Míng Cōng .This tea is one of the most famous oolong tea varieties from China.
White Comb in Chinese, a Si Da Ming Cong tea. A light tea with light, yellowish leaves.
Cassia in Chinese Ròu Guì, a dark tea with a spicy aroma.
Iron Goddess or in Chinese Ti Kuan Yin, very popular.
Golden Cassia in Chinese Huángjīn Guì, featuring a very fragrant flavor.
Oolong Tea from Taiwan
Dong Ding oolong which means Frozen Summit or Ice Peak. It features a light, distinctive fragrance.
Oriental Beauty featuring natural fruity aromas, a bright red appearance, and a sweet taste.
Alishan oolong, it produces a golden yellow tea which has a unique fruity aroma.
Lishan oolong is grown at an elevation above 1,000 metres, with Dayuling, in the Lishan.
Pouchong, originally grown in Fujian it is now widely cultivated and produced in Pinglin Township near Taipei, Taiwan.
Ruan Zhi, the tea is also known as Qingxin. It originates from Anxi in Fujian province, China.
Interesting Facts About Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is especially popular in China and among Chinese people around the world, but it seems to have gotten a breakthrough into the Western countries as well, including the United States. Find out more interesting information about oolong tea which will transform your experience with this tea type into an even more intense one.
Oolong tea can be reused. For brewing oolong tea, it is generally recommended to use 3 grams of tea per 200 ml of water. One should use around two teaspoons of oolong tea per cup. This type of tea isn’t preprared with boiling water, but with water measuring a temperature around 93 to 96 Celsius degrees.
The tea is best to be steeped around 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the oolong variety you are using. The good news is that high quality oolong can be reused several times because it actually improves with rebrewing. It can be reused around three to five times, the last two steepings being considered the best due to the unique flavor. The oolong prepared with whole loose leaves is considered to be of a higher quality. Using whole loose leaves when brewing gives the tea a much intense aroma and it keeps its natural, health related benefits.
Oolong tea is better than green tea in reducing one’s weight. Studies have recently discovered that oolong tea contains polyphenols (organic chemicals) just like green tea, which are the best natural fat burner you can find. The studies go even further showing that it is possible that oolong tea to be a much greater calorie burner than the green tea which until now took all the credit, because oolong is thought to be more richer in polyphenols than the green tea is.
A Japanese study, conducted in 2003, wanted to compare the benefits of oolong tea and green tea concerning the weight reduction issue. The study was made on eleven healthy young female students who received three different beverages: water, oolong tea and green tea, for a period of six months. The young women consumed those beverages in turns, after eating their evening meals. Mostly after oolong tea consomption, they noticed an increase in metabolism and energy and, as a result, they lost weight. The study concluded that the polymerized polyphenol and flavanol rich content of oolong tea were responsible for speeding up metabolism and increasing energy, thus making oolong tea more effective than green tea which features a smaller quantity of polymerazed polyphenols.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, physiologist William Rumpler initiated and conducted a study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland. The study wanted to test energy expenditure (EE) on participants who drank either 4 cups of oolong tea or 4 cups of plain water each day for three days. At the end of the study, he and his research team found that the participants who drank the oolong tea had a 3% higher expenditure and burned on average 67 more calories a day than they previously had. In addition, the tea drinkers had a 12% higher fat oxidation rate than the water drinkers.
The taste of oolong ranges hugely depending on the various subvarities. The tea prepared from the Chinese varieties of oolong has a dark color, while the tea prepared from the Taiwanese varieties is much more lighter and floral. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas like the ones from Taiwan, or woody and thick with roasted aromas like the Chinese varieties. It can also be green and fresh with bouquet aromas when it comes to those varieties which are cultivated at a high altitude. It all depends on the horticulture, style of production and geographic area. Oolong tea is much more popular in countries such as China and Taiwan
Oolong tea is special and precious due to its wonderful taste, characteristics and popularity in Asia. It seems that Westerners are beginning to discover and enjoy it, too. Follow our blog and discover more information about the wonderful world of oolong tea. You will be amazed.
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