Oolong tea is one of the most famous and original types of Loose Chinese Green tea. It is known for its extraordinary production process, taste and the traditions associated with it. Let us discover Oolong Tea!
What is Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea is the only semi-oxidised type of Chinese Green Tea. In fact, its production technique has similarities to that of both black and green teas. That is why many people in China refer to Oolong as ‘“dark green tea”. In France, on the other hand, this tea is known as “blue tea”.
Oolong tea emerged during the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1912), and was first mentioned as “wulong” in 1857 by Shi Hongbao, in his ‘Miscellaneous notes on Fujian’.
Oolong Tea. Production technique.
As mentioned above, Oolong tea does not have a definite tea category, because it is ‘in between’ green and black tea.
Its production process consists of 4 main steps after harvesting: withering under the strong sunlight, oxidation, curling and twisting.
Here it is important to mention that the degree of oxidation (or ‘heat treatment’) of Oolong tea varies according to the tea type and, depending on the length of the heating process, fluctuates between 8 and 85 %.
Given that loose leaf black tea is usually a 100% oxidised tea, we may deduce that the technique for producing Oolong tea is similar to that of black tea, with the exception that it spends less time being heater.
The rolling technique for Oolong tea leaves is also very interesting. As a matter of fact, it is quite similar to that of Gunpowder Green Tea. That is why these tea types look quite alike. However, there is another method of rolling Oolong tea leaves, which implies creating “curly leaves”. However, this method is less frequently used.
As far as Oolong tea taste is concerned, it varies considerably, depending on the particular Oolong tea type. Its taste may be sweet, or fruity. It can also be woody and have a roasted aroma. However, some of the low-oxidised Oolong tea types have a very fresh taste similar to that of most green tea types.
There are 3 main varieties of Oolong tea.
1. The Fujian type
This type of Oolong tea grows at high altitudes in the Wuyi Mountains. It is of the highest quality and, therefore, the most expensive. Most of the Oolong tea coming from Fujian province is organic, and the most famous types of Oolong tea are from this region, such as Organic Milk Oolong Tea.
2. The Guangdong type
As the name suggests, this type of Oolong tea comes from Guangdong province of China. This tea is known for its flowery and fruity aroma and taste. Its fragrance bears a resemblance to different natural products, such as orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond and ginger.
This type of Oolong tea, pleasant though it may be, is not known outside China.
3. The Taiwan type
The Taiwanese tend to copy the Chinese as far as tea production is concerned. What is more, the climate in Taiwan is rather similar to that in the mountainous areas of China. Therefore, most of the teas existing in Fujian province of China are also present in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese have developed their own type of Oolong tea, which is usually grown at high altitudes, and boasts a unique sweet taste.
Just as it is in the case of the Guangdong type of Oolong, this tea type, attractive as it may be, is known solely in its own country, Taiwan.
Oolong tea. Brewing guide and tasting traditions.
Given that Oolong tea lies in between green and black tea types, its brewing temperature is right in the middle between that used for brewing loose leaf green tea and loose leaf black tea. The ideal brewing temperature for Oolong is between 82 and 96 °C. As you might have guessed, the higher the oxidation degree, the higher the brewing temperature.
As for tasting traditions for this tea type, it is worth mentioning that Oolong tea is quite commonly used for the Chinese tea ceremony, Gongfu Cha, because this tea type remains one of the finest representatives of the culture of tea in China!
Oolong tea is also known for its great health benefits. To learn more about them, please discover our article ‘10 Greatest Oolong tea benefits’.
Bedford tea proudly offers you several Oolong tea types. Our Oolong Loose Leaf Tea ‘Guardian Angel’, for instance, is known for its health benefits, hence its name.
Bedford tea delivers its finest tea all over the UK! Therefore, if you are a UK resident, and are fond of fine loose leaf tea, you are welcome to discover our site.