Table of Contents
- What is Oolong Tea?
- Preparing oolong tea
- 7 Amazing Benefits of Oolong Tea You Didn’t Know
What is Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea. It’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed and oolong tea taste. All tea leaves contain certain enzymes, which produce a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation is what turns the green tea leaves into a deep black color.
Green tea is not allowed to oxidize much, but black tea is allowed to oxidize until it turns black. Oolong tea is somewhere in between the two, so it is partially oxidized. This partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea’s color and characteristic taste. However, the color of the leaves can vary between different brands, ranging from green to dark brown.
Oolong is neither a black tea nor a green tea; it falls into its own category of tea. Yet an oolong may end up with more black tea characteristics or more green tea characteristics depending on the direction the tea master takes in the processing of the tea.
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.
Preparing oolong tea
Because olong teas vary wildly in their oxidation levels and processing techniques, many oolongs will have different ideal brewing temperatures and steeping times. While it’s best to ask your tea vendor for brewing instructions specific to the tea you purchased, here are a few general oolong tea brewing tips:
- Use fresh, pure, cold filtered water. Spring water is best.
- Because styles of oolongs vary so much, steeping temperature and time can vary as well. Generally, oolongs are steeped anywhere between 180 and 200 degrees for 60 seconds to 3 minutes.
- If you don’t have an electric kettle with temperature control, just remember that at sea level water simmers at 190 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. The boiling temperature drops about a degree for every 100 feet in altitude increase.
- Most oolong teas are designed to steep multiple times. Each steeping unfurls the rolled or twisted leaves just a little more, revealing even more layers of the flavor profile intended by the tea master who created the tea. It is not uncommon to get 3 to 5 infusions out of a high-quality oolong.
- Avoid over steeping your oolong tea. Many oolongs are designed to taste best with multiple short infusions. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.
- If your oolong tea came with specific recommendations for brewing, use those. But using about 2 grams of loose leaf tea per 8 oz. cup of water is a safe bet.
- Cover your oolong tea while it steeps to keep all the heat in the steeping vessel.
- Tea producers spend a lot of time mastering the art of oolong tea. To best appreciate the handcrafted flavors of an oolong tea, try sipping it plain with no additives like milk or sugar.
7 Amazing Benefits of Oolong Tea You Didn’t Know
Olong Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes
The polyphenol antioxidants found in tea are thought to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. They’re also thought to increase insulin sensitivity Accordingly, several studies report links between regular tea consumption, improved blood sugar control and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
The polyphenol antioxidants may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.
Olong Tea May Improve Heart Health
Regularly consuming tea antioxidants may also improve heart health. Several studies of regular tea drinkers report reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease. One study of more than 76,000 Japanese adults observed that those who drank 8 oz (240 ml) or more of oolong tea per day had a 61% lower heart disease risk.
One thing to remember is that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. That being said, this effect tends to fade with regular caffeine consumption. Oolong tea may help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in some people.
olong Tea May Help You Lose Weight
Scientists believe that some of the polyphenols in oolong tea may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat absorbed from your diet. These polyphenol antioxidants are also thought to activate enzymes that help you use stored fat for energy. One study found that both full-strength and diluted oolong tea helped participants burn 2.9–3.4% more total calories per day. The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.
olong Tea May Improve Brain Function
Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, several components of tea may benefit brain function. For starters, caffeine can increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function. Further research shows that theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention and relieve anxiety. Tea polyphenols are also thought to have a calming effect, especially starting two hours after intake.
Protect Against Certain Cancers
Scientists believe the antioxidants present in black, green and oolong teas may help prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer in the body. Tea polyphenols might also decrease the rate of cancer cell division. What’s more, one review reports that regular tea drinkers may have a 15% lower risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, most research in this field focused on the effects of green or black teas, with the biggest effects noted for green teas. Since oolong tea falls midway between green and black tea, similar benefits may be expected. However, more research is needed on oolong tea specifically. Similar to green and black tea, oolong tea may have protective effects against cancer.
olong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength
The antioxidants found in oolong tea may help keep your teeth and bones strong. Finally, research links tea consumption to reduced dental plaque. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel. Oolong tea may help increase bone mineral density. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the formation of dental plaque.
Safety and Side Effects
Oolong tea has been consumed for centuries and is generally considered to be safe. That being said, it does contain caffeine. When consumed in excess, caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and in some, high blood pressure. Additionally, consuming too many polyphenol antioxidants can make them act as pro-oxidants, which are not good for your health. Excess intake may occur from taking polyphenol supplements, but this is unlikely from simply drinking tea Oolong tea may not be as well known as green or black tea, but it has similar health benefits. These include benefits for heart, brain, bone and dental health.
At the end of the day, oolong tea is an incredibly healthy and tasty addition to your lifestyle. Give it a try — you won’t be disappointed.
Read more: Top 10 Benefits of Oolong Tea you must know