If you’ve done even a cursory Web search for oolong tea – which often goes by such names as wulong and a host of related variations – then you’ve probably already discovered that it is the weight loss miracle of the ages. Of course, you’ll want to take these tidbits of information with a grain (or a bushel) of salt. There have been some studies indicating that tea may have some nominal benefits when it comes to weight loss, but they tend to almost always be overstated in the interests of selling more “miracle” tea.
What oolong tea really is, is just one of the six types of tea that are derived from Camellia sinensis, or the tea plant. The other main types of tea are black, green, yellow, white and puerh. If you wanted to dumb things down a bit you could probably say that oolong falls somewhere on the scale between black tea and green tea, depending on the variety.
Some oolong teas are heavily processed, or oxidized, as is the case with black tea, and they have a robust flavor to match. Other varieties are subject to very minimal amounts of processing, as is the case with green tea, and tend to have a very delicate flavor, often with faintly floral notes. Oolong tea leaves seem to often be larger than those of other varieties and thus are particularly well suited to being steeped multiple times.
While you may run across oolong teas from somewhere else, the only ones worth mentioning come from China and Taiwan. Much of the tea produced in Taiwan is oolong and some of the best-known varieties are Alishan and Pouchong. In China, some of the more notable oolong teas are produced in the Wuyi Mountains, in Fujian province. Other well-known oolong teas include Ti Kuan Yin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy, and Dan Cong.
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One thought on “Spotlight on Oolong Tea”
I wish oolong tea were better known in the U.S. and other western countries; although I like all types of tea, and like to switch it up a lot, oolong is definitely one of my favorites. Oolongs also astonish me with my variety, from the sometimes bizarre se chung oolongs to even the basic darker oolong served in some Chinese restaurants (which can often be pretty good!). I especially love some of the more heavily roasted greener oolongs, like Tie Guan Yin with more roast.
One thing that I love about oolong is that there are so many different dimensions that go into it–even in oolongs from the same region. For example, from Anxi, there are oolongs from different varietals, with different levels of oxidation, and then different levels of roast…and each of these factors radically changes the tea. And then region ends up factoring in too: a similar varietal with similar method of production produced in Taiwan ends up tasting totally different.