Chinese Oolong Tea's Long Kept Secret by Julian Tai
July 28, 2008
What is Chinese oolong tea?
Until recently, most of us in the west didn´t even know
there were different kinds of tea! We´d drink black tea or
herbal infusions, and were unaware of the huge variety of other
teas out there. It´s only in recent years that green, white
and oolong teas have been readily available on grocery store
Most of us have probably had oolong tea - it is often served in
Chinese restaurants, for example - and not even known it. What is
this tea, and how does it differ from the other types of tea?
The secret is in the processing...
As you may know, all tea varieties come from the same plant, the
camellia sinensis. Different types are harvested at different
times, and may include varying proportions of leaves and buds.
Chinese oolong tea should combine one bud and three leaves. It
is picked in the morning, on a clear day. The leaves and buds are
first dried in the sun, and then brought inside for processing.
Finally, the leaves are rolled to release their aroma and flavor,
and then roasted.
Great experience is needed to determine just when the leaves are
fermented enough, but not too much. Tea masters must spend many
years practicing this combination of art and science to attain the
title of "Master".
Not black, not green...
Because it is only slightly fermented, it has a little bit less
caffeine than black tea, and a clearer, more delicate flavor. The
fermentation process removes some of the strength of the
antioxidant properties, but results in a smoother, less grassy tea
While its health benefits may be slightly less than in white or
green teas, they are still profound. All tea contains huge amounts
of polyphenol catechins, antioxidant compounds that help lower
cholesterol, reduce the risk of many types of cancer, and promote
weight loss. A cup of this tea is the best health supplement you
could hope for!
Because it accounts for such a small percentage of overall tea
sales and consumption, scientists and researchers are just
beginning to design and conduct studies to ascertain all of its
benefits. If green tea studies are any indication, we will be
reading a lot more about this amazing beverage in the near
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