Nothing can refute that Oolong’s royalty in the tea world is timeless. Oolong tea originated in China during the Qing Dynasty, from the powerhouse of tea production, the Fujian province. The discovery of Oolong tea sparked the interests of many tea makers, making the output renowned to nearby regions and eventually crossing the borders of Taiwan.
Unlike other teas like green and black tea, Oolong was invented and flourished during Fujian’s dark age. During the Ming Dynasty, tea cakes were banned, leaving the tea makers of Fujian province no other choice but to think of different ways to produce tea.
How Oolong Tea is Produced
Oolong tea is also produced from Camellia sinensis leaves, its iconic taste brought by the partial oxidation involved in the process. The partial oxidation of the Oolong tea originated from the scarcity of tea-making equipment since teamakers’ factories were raided during the Ming Dynasty. The equipment for tea making was also confiscated.
Oolong tea production became popular in the region. Tea makers started drying the leaves under the sun but only for a short period. The leaves are then brought inside the house, placed in bamboo trays, and left in oxidation for 12 hours. After letting the leaves oxidize, tea makers then pan-sear the leaves to stop the oxidation and remove the moisture. The final products are now rolled into balls of teas and kept as herbal remedies during the cold season.
Oolong tea ranges from light to dark, depending on how long you let it steep. Oolong’s taste resembles the flavor of black tea but is distinct for a hint of buttery and citrusy flavors.
Types of Oolong Tea
In the hierarchy of oxidation levels, Oolong is in the middle of green and black tea – the reason why it’s sometimes referred to as “black, green tea,” which can be very confusing to non-tea drinkers. This attribute makes Oolong the best choice if you want your tea pungent but not bitter.
Oolong teas are categorized in many factors – how it looks, where it’s from, and the intensity of flavors. Among the best varieties of Oolong tea are:
- Phoenix Tea – originated from the Guangdong province, also known in Chinese as Dan Chong. It is iconic for its rich orangey and floral flavor, which resembles the taste of grapefruit.
- Iron Goddess of Mercy – is a prevalent Oolong tea type that originated from the Anxi region, still in Fujian. It is distinct for its orchid-like fragrance and honey taste. Iron Goddess of Mercy is also called Ti Kuan Yin in Chinese.
- Wuyi Oolong Tea – is the most oxidized form of Oolong tea made from the highest quality tea leaves. It is famous for its complex, buttery, smoky, and caramel-like flavors.
You can also find the best Oolongs in Taiwan. Almost the same as China’s timeline in Oolong production, the quality of Oolong tea in Taiwan is another discovery. Taiwan produces Oolong tea from its highest elevated areas and is seasonal because of its climate conditions.
Benefits of Oolong Tea
Another good news about Oolong tea is its nutritional credential. Oolong tea is raved by tea enthusiasts not only for its distinct taste but its ability to reduce stress and stimulate the nervous system.
Oolong is full of antioxidants and catechins in green and black tea, known to lower the risk of diabetes, stroke, and skin problems. A Japanese study shows that drinking Oolong tea could reduce the risk of diabetes by 30 percent and stroke by 21 percent.
On the other hand, Oolong tea has mood-elevating properties good for people with anxiety and those needing an energy boost.