OOLONG: The lesser known Tea

By: Anubha Jhawar | August 12, 2020

From its name to its distinctive flavor, oolong tea is all allure. With its origins in Taiwan and Southeast China, oolong teas are a ‘inbetween’. Neither Black nor Green, Oolongs are the wide variety that comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis  as all the other teas.

Through skilled, labor-intensive processing, a tea-maker can coax anything from buttery florals to deep chocolate to roasted nuts to tropical fruit out of a single batch of leaves. So if you've been drinking tea for a while and are getting bored of your malty Assams and your springy sencha, here's a basic introduction to the entire universe of tea in between. 

To make oolong tea, relatively mature leaves of tea plant, Camellia sinensis  (1 bud-rarely and 3-4 open leaves) are subjected to partial oxidation. The degree of oxidation varies anywhere between 10-80%, depending on the style of oolong tea being produced. Oolongs that are oxidized for a short period of time tend to resemble green teas in flavor while oolongs that have been oxidized more than 50% are closer to a black tea. Which is why the flavor profile of some oolongs may lean more toward a fresh green tea (less oxidized) and others toward a malty black tea (more oxidized).The biggest difference between oolong tea and black or green teas? Oxidation and shape. 

As mentioned above, apart from the oxidation process, shape help in determining the type of Oolong. Oolong teas are traditionally rolled, twisted or curled into tight balls or thin strands. These artisanal shaping techniques depend on the traditions of the tea master making the tea. Rolling is an important aspect of oolong processing that alters the appearance, color and aroma of the final tea leaves. Depending on how and when the leaves are rolled during processing, the tea master can subtly alter the entire direction of the tea’s final flavor.

However, the overall process of making an oolong is extremely intricate, labour-intensive, and time-consuming. Every step is closely monitored and controlled. Often, the steps involved in making an oolong tea are repeated multiple times before the desired amount of bruising and browning of the leaves is achieved.

 

PROCESS
The process of making oolong tea involves various steps depending the type of oolong being made. It is first left to wither under the sun for few hours for moisture to escape and then indoors its shaken and bruised on bamboo baskets to provoke oxidation. Then its tumbled in bamboo drums for fermentation or oxidation. This process helps to break chlorophyll down and tannins are released. Then the heat is applied in the panning machine to stop oxidation. The flowery/fruity flavor of the oolong tea develops as a result of being semi-oxidized. It is then lightly rolled and then dried. 

 

HEALTH BENEFITS
The health benefits of drinking oolong tea include its ability to reduce chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, inflammatory disorders, and high cholesterol levels while also providing vital antioxidants and promoting superior bone structure.

While drinking oolong tea for weight loss is often overlooked, the tea, however, can play an important role in your weight loss efforts by being a calorie-free way to rehydrate. 

 

VARIOUS VARIETIES
There are a variety of oolong tea types like the Chinese oolong tea, Dragon Eye oolong tea, Wuyi oolong tea and many more. Therefore, oolong tea tastes depend on the type of tea used. But for the most part each oolong type has its own sweet and fragrant aftertaste.