Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea, made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, that has a flavor similar to black tea but with more nutty flavors. If you’ve been wondering about Oolong, want to learn more about it, and perhaps start drinking it, you’ll learn all about the process and its health benefits in this article.
What is Oolong Tea?
So what exactly is Oolong tea, and how does it differ from black tea? The differences in oolong tea are mostly in the way it’s processed. It’s a partially oxidized tea, produced predominantly in China’s Fujian and Guangdong provinces and Taiwan, that falls somewhere between green and black tea on the spectrum of light to dark.
As with most teas, oolong is made with leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It’s the same plant used to make green tea and black tea.
Where the real difference comes in is how the tea is harvested and processed.
After being picked, the tea leaves are either dried right away or laid out to wither and oxidize for a distinct period of time. It is this process that determines the type of tea that is produced. The longer that the leaves are allowed to oxidize, the darker the leaves will turn.
White and green teas undergo minimal oxidation, while oolong teas are semi-oxidized, and black teas are fully oxidized with some fermentation. The amount of oxidation will vary depending on the producers desired results.
Oolong tea is often considered to be a middle ground or compromise between green and black tea. If you’re looking for something a little more flavorful and less vegetal than green tea, but less tannic and bitter than black tea, then oolong is your sweet spot.
What Does Oolong Tea Taste Like?
Oolong tea has a pleasant taste, with mild to medium roasted flavors, depending on the level of oxidation. It’s not bitter like black tea can be. It has more nutty, buttery, and chocolatey notes.
Whether you like a steaming cup of hot tea on a chilly day or tall glass of iced tea in the summer, Oolong is a great choice, not only for the health benefits, but also for the refreshing taste.
Helpful Elements Found in Tea
Catechins (a type of natural phenol and antioxidant), and flavonoids are the main elements in tea that give health benefits. Oolong contains flavinoids called theasinensins, and a mixture of catechins and their oxidized polymeric substances such as theaflavins and thearubigins that possess several beneficial health properties.
Catechin is one of the elements found in tea that is impacted by the oxidation process. Essentially the longer the leaves are allowed to oxidize, the less catechins are contained in the finished product. Thus, catechin content is higher in green tea and less in black tea.
While it is true that oxidation reduces the level of catechins in oolong, the same process actually increases the levels of theaflavins and ehearubigins in the tea.
This means that oolong will actually contain a higher count of these elements than green tea. These particular antioxidants can possibly slow the development of cancers, they have anti-inflammatory agents, and may help with certain types of airborne allergies.
Oolong Tea Health Benefits
Oolong tea is known for its unique flavor and rich aroma which is said to be caused by its high concentration of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that are thought to contain a whole host of health benefits.
Polyphenols contained in tea have been found to help prevent some forms of cancer, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, most likely by reducing cholesterol, and help kill unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. Oolong is also said to help with weight loss, by enhancing the metabolism of fat, according to Medical News Today.
Oolong tea also appears to be of some value in helping those with type 2 diabetes deal effectively with their condition. It may also help to ease the discomfort of eczema.
Oolong tea is a tasty drink that is made even better by it’s outstanding health benefits. Regardless of whether you are looking for a tasty drink, or a helpful balm to any pain, oolong tea is definitely worth a try.
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Laura is the founder and editor of the travel blogs Savored Sips and Savored Journeys. She is dedicated to sharing the best information about drinks found around the world.