What is Oolong Tea: Benefits for Your Body

Let’s start off with some basics of tea!

For a beverage to be truly a tea, they need to come from the leaves, buds, and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant that is a species of evergreen shrubs native to East and Southeast Asia. This means that teas like green tea, black tea, oolong, Pu-erh, and even matcha, all come from the same plant! But what makes these teas different from each other is how the tea leaves are grown (geography, climate, and culture) as well as how they are processed upon picking. The different methods of curing leaves produce an amazingly large variety of flavors, from the well-known slightly bitter and astringent flavors of green tea, to the sweet floral notes of oolong, to the umami and earthy tastes of matcha.

On the other hand, the term “herbal tea” is an oxymoron! This is because a beverage made from an infusion or decoction of herbs (and fruits, flowers, barks, roots) that don’t include the tea plant Camillia sinensis is actually not a tea at all. It is much more accurate to call them herbal infusions or tisanes. This category includes chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, rooibos, blackberry leaves, and many more!

What is Oolong?

Here’s a little tea pun for you: How long does it take to steep Chinese tea? …Oolong Time.

The name Oolong literally means the “Dark Dragon” in Chinese, a very bold and beautiful name for this delicious tea. They are native to China, especially from Fujian Province and Wuji Mountain Range, as well as from Taiwan. These regions are skilled in producing high-quality handmade oolong teas, and some oolong teas in Taiwan are even aged like fine wine.

Oolong tea is neither green tea nor black tea, as they are an entirely separate category of their own! Unlike black teas that are fully oxidized, and green teas that are barely oxidized at all, oolong teas are partially oxidized anywhere between levels of 8% to 80%. Thus, they have a large range of flavor profiles, from floral and sweet to grassy and toasty, that depend on their processing techniques. Oolongs that are very lightly oxidized are sometimes even put into a separate category called “green oolong” tea.

After picking of the tea leaves, oolongs are often rolled into balls or twisted and curled into thin wires for oxidation. The shape that the tea master decides to give the tea leaves can alter the entire direction of its final flavors. Oolongs are then heated to halt the oxidation process, and skillfully shaped one last time by the tea master. A huge contributing factor to oolong’s wide range of flavors comes after the basic heating process, when many are roasted. Oolongs that are only lightly roasted keep their fresh, lightly sweet and floral taste. Heavily roasted oolongs have a much darker aroma and flavor resembling that of ripe stone fruits and espresso.

One of the popular oolong teas enjoyed today is Osmanthus Oolong. It is a fragrant green oolong infused with osmanthus flowers that is ideal for tea lovers that seek fresh floral notes. Another favorite is the White Peach Oolong, a darker oolong that originates from the high mountains of Taiwan known for its lush and deeply floral, honey-like flavors. The tea leaves are infused with white peach that makes a cup of this lovely tea resembling that of a succulent slice of peach.

Benefits of Oolong

In ancient times, oolong tea has been enjoyed to aid a variety of ailments as traditional medicine. With the technology available to us today however, we are able to further study the subject and learn even more health benefits associated with this delicious beverage.

Oolong tea is rich in antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. It is also rich in a variety of minerals such as calcium, manganese, copper, carotin, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Among the many nutrients of this tea is folic acid, which detoxifies our bodies and helps us from healthy red blood cells.

Including oolong into your daily routine can provide you with many more benefits such as:

  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Boosting immune system
  • Controlling blood sugar
  • Naturally improving sleep
  • Aiding in digestive health
  • Increasing alertness