Black, Green, Oolong and White teas all come from the same plant – The Camellia Sinensis. A number of factors determines which type of tea is produced for example the processing method, the level of oxidization, where the tea was grown etc.
Oolong, which can also translate into Black or Twisted dragon, is a semi-fermented Tea. If you compared Tea to the wine world Oolong Tea would be a Rose Wine, Black Tea a Red Wine and White Tea resembling a White Wine – Oolong Tea is between a Green Tea and a Black Tea. Making Oolong Tea is complicated, and takes a lot of skill. It retains Green Tea’s sweet and fragrant smell, and it also reminds you of Black Tea’s strong fragrance and mellow flavours.
Oxidisation levels in Oolong Tea can be as little as 10% or as much as 70%. The higher the oxdisation per cent the darker the Oolong (Dark Chinese Tea), whereas a lower percentage will give a more greener Oolong. It’s taste is not as bitter or as strong as Black Tea, a young Oolong will give a very vibrant and fruity flavour. The taste of Oolong varies widely among different subvarieties. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, or woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas, all depending on the horticulture and style of production. Several subvarieties of Oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, such as Da Hong Pao, are among the most famous Chinese teas.
Different varieties of Oolong are processed differently, but the leaves are formed into one of two distinct styles. Some are rolled into long curly leaves, while others are ‘wrap-curled’ into small beads, each with a tail. The former style is the more traditional of the two in China.
Oolong increased in popularity since the recent study that indicated that it helps the body to break down fat and boost your metabolism which means they aid in weight loss.
The most popular varieties of Oolong Tea
Wu Yi Rock (Cliff) Tea
Wu Yi Yan Cha or “Rock Oolong” is a special subcategory of Oolong tea grown in the vicinity of Wu Yi Mountain in northern Fujian Province. Wu Yi Mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage site, internationally recognized and protected for its biological diversity and significance as an ancient cultural site. There are 5 classic, famous Wu Yi rock tea plant cultivars: Da Hong Pao, Ban Tian Yao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan and Shui Jin Gui.
Each type of rock tea has it’s own unique characteristics, from the appearance of the leaves, the style and nuance of production and the resulting, taste, aroma and liquor. Typically Wu Yi rock teas are more heavily oxidised than those of the lighter, Southern Oolongs such as Tie Guan Yin, and hence have redder, darker dried leaves. The liquor too, is also of a warm rich flavour.
Tie Guanyin or Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess)
Tie Guan Yin, also known as Iron Goddess, invented during Qing Dynasty, is the most well known and top variety type of Oolong Tea from the Anxi, Fujian province. It has a distinctive shapes to the leaves which are quite different from other varieties of Oolong, they are rolled into tight balls. Although the teas go through quite a complicated process, the fermentation is light. The production process has around 12 steps that it must go through, the tossing of the tea leaves is one of the most important steps, which creates the unique taste and fragrance.
There are 2 main styles of Tie Guan Yin: Qingxiang- ‘light aroma’ and Nongxiang- ‘thick aroma’. The former refers to lightly oxidized, lightly roasted styles. These are also known as ‘green style’ Tie Guan Yin and are favored for their fragrance and pleasant verdant appearance of its dry leaves. The ‘Nongxiang’ style refers to the heavier oxidation- circa 30-50%- and heavier roast styles that was traditionally popular among Southern Chinese and migrant Chinese communities, particularly in South East Asia. These are characterized by browned dry leaves and brownish liquor.
Dong Ding Oolong (Tai Wan)
Dong Ding, also spelled Tung-ting, is an Oolong tea from Taiwan. For many Oolong lovers, Dong Ding is considered the premium Taiwanese Oolong.
The original Dong Ding is from Dong Ding mountain located in the Lugu region of Nantou County in central Taiwan. The altitude of this mountain is not that high which is at around 1000m plus. The secret of Dong Ding Mountain is that it always produces identical quality due to its weather and soil condition. The tea garden gets very strong sunshine in the morning, but it is completely covered by fog in the afternoon. In addition, the environment is very windy, and the soil condition is less rich in nutrition. This severe environment causes the tea leaves to accumulate a lot of substances and leaving it no chance to consume these substances. That’s the reason why tea produced at Dong Ding Mountain gives a very strong flavor and sweet after taste.
Chinese teas, including Oolong tea, are extremely well known for their health benefits due to containing masses amounts of vitamins and antioxidant properties. Many health benefits have been linked to drinking Oolong Tea these include; Building stronger bones, Skin allergies, Blood pressure and many more.
*Please note that the health benefits listed are only suggested and more tests need to be done*
- General information of Chinese Tea
- Black Tea
- Oolong Tea
- Jasmine Tea
- Pu-Erh Tea
- Chinese Vessels
- Standard Steps of Brewing Chinese Tea