OOLONG TEA GUIDE

Milk Oolong

Oolong tea comes from the same plant as green and black tea. While black tea is fully oxidized or "fermented" and green tea is un-oxidized, oolong tea is somewhere in between. Because each variety of oolong is processed differently, the flavors vary widely.

Our oolong selection is made up exclusively of premium styles. These teas are all great additions to your reserve collection. Crafting quality oolong tea is an art form. Like regional variance in fine wines - soil integrity, humidity levels, genus and artisanal skill all leave their imprint on the leaf. Oolongs are grown in limited areas where the conditions are perfect and great care is taken to ensure the health of the surrounding environment. Producing a great oolong requires years of formal training to master. From nursing new seedlings, to planting, nourishing the bushes and properly selecting the best time to pluck the leaves, the intricacies are passed down from one generation to the next. The great masters believe that it is only through the transfer of carefully protected secrets that the finest specimens can be produced.

Oolong teas must not be picked too early or at too tender a stage and are usually processed immediately. Oolong tea is wilted in the sun to remove most of the moisture, then typically shaken in bamboo baskets to bruise the leaf edges. A great example of this is our White Tip Formosa Fancy which clearly shows the edges of these bruised leaves.

You'll also notice that most oolongs are whole leaf and not broken into little bits. Oxidation follows and this can vary greatly, typically from 30% (closer to a green tea) to 70% (closer to black). Once the desired oxidation levels are reached the tea is fired under high heat to capture the unique and highly intricate flavor profiles. It is interesting to note that a shorter firing produces teas with an almost peach-like character while a longer firing will produce a rich amber cup with more 'woody' notes.

Oolong tea is mainly produced in China and Taiwan, but other countries like Vietnam and Sri Lanka also produce a small amount of oolong. Many Taiwan tea plantations are at elevations of 2000 meters or higher, and the unique climate conditions of Taiwan are particularly ideal for producing oolong tea. Most oolong teas can also be steeped multiple times, resulting in a changing flavor profile. In fact, some drinkers prefer the taste of the 2nd or 3rd infusions.

Health Benefits

Oolong tea, like all tea, contains powerful catechin antioxidants which can help boost the immune system. Because green tea is the least processed, it does hold a slight edge over Oolong in terms of the overall catechin content. Catechin content decreases as tea is oxidized. But it is over looked that the levels of theaflavins and thearubigins increase. These two substances are found in higher concentrations in oolong and black tea than green. They have anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Some studies suggest they are as effective as the catechins in green and white tea. Both teas have similar effects and will provide equal health benefits overall.

Weight Loss

Now while weight loss seems to be a more popular issue with some teas these days, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise along with the consumption of tea. Tea by itself will not make you lose any noticeable weight. Be wary of those who are promising that a tea will dramatically make you lose weight. And always consult your doctor first before starting any "tea diet".

Beware of merchants or products claiming you will lose weight with certain oolong tea blends. (sometimes called wu-long) Not to say that you won't, but please be wary of some that make claims, when they are just over-priced teas with a fancy name. They will not do anything miraculous, and keep in mind that all oolong varieties will help you achieve the same results for much less. All Oolongs come from the same species of plant!

Brewing Methods

Hot tea brewing method: Heat water to 200°F. Place 1 heaping teaspoon per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on - until the tea flavor is exhausted.

Iced tea brewing method: Heat water to 200°F. Place 1 heaping teaspoon per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea leaves and add ice. Lemon Basil Oolong and Orange Ginger Oolong make good iced teas

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