What Is Oolong Tea? And Everything You Need to Know About Oolong Tea


In China, the tea culture is traced back to 2,000 BC. It is the most consumed beverage around the world besides water. In 1857, the Chinese term Wulong (Oolong) was first found to describe tea. The word ‘oo’ means black, and ‘long’ means dragon. It refers to the dark and curled nature of Oolong tea leaves.

In 1857, Oolong was identified as one of the tea categories along with white tea, green tea, yellow tea, black tea and Pu-erh tea. Further, in the 18th Century, Taiwan began to import tea and tea plants from China, including small Oolong trees. These trees thrived in Taiwan’s climate. Due to high demands from domestic and Asian countries, Taiwan has become one of the four best tea origins in the world.

Six Types of Teas
Different Type of Teas

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Oolong tea.

What we will cover in this article:

1. What Is Oolong Tea?

2. Oolong Tea Origins

3. How Oolong Tea is Made?

4. How to Choose Oolong Tea?

5. How to Brew Oolong Tea And Loose Leaf Tea?

6. Nutrients And Benefits of Oolong Tea

7. Side Effects, Precautions, Risks And Considerations

1. What Is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea made from the Camellia sinensis plant. All tea types are made from only the Camellia sinensis plant. But based on the tea leaves picked, level of oxidation, or processing, they are categorised as white, green, Oolong, black etc.

Oolong tea lies between green and black tea, but it is neither green tea nor black tea. The processing of Oolong tea often includes more than 15 steps. It is the most versatile tea category, both in flavour and colour.

Oolong tea goes through a very complicated process, such as twice firing, bruising, and fermenting. As a result, Oolong tea can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with complex aromas.

2. Oolong Tea Origins

The origins of Oolong are claimed in both China and Taiwan, and tea is still highly revered in both countries today.

2.1 Taiwan Oolong Tea

Among all its origins, Taiwanese Oolong Tea is famous for its premium high mountain Oolong Tea. As the weather in Taiwan is very variable with the tall, steep mountains with different temperatures, altitudes and soil, these factors resulted in differences in the appearance, aroma, and flavour of tea leaves.

It may not surprise you that tea is grown all across Taiwan. However, even within the different regions, there is notable variation in the tea produced. The high-mountain area runs down the geographical centre of Taiwan, spanning several counties.

Taiwan Tea Map chen
Taiwan Tea Area Map
taipei tea area
Taipei Tea Area

The Northern areas (T’ai Pei and I-Lan) are better known for their green teas, such as Wenshen Paochong, Tie-Guan-Yin and Shushan.

hsinchew tea area
Hsin-chu Tea Area

The North-East region (including Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli counties) produces green tea and the famously unique Oriental Beauty.

hehuan shan tea area
Hehuan Shan Tea Area

On the east side of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, Hehuan Shan Tea Area is one of the highest tea plantations in Taiwan and in the world. Specifically, Da Yu Ling Oolong Tea is one of the rarest teas grown in this tea area.

lishan lugu tea area
Lishan and Lugu Tea Area

On the west side of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, most notably Lishan, Lugu, and Nantou tea areas, as well as the most famous tea area, Alishan Tea Area.

Lower amounts of oxygen in the air at these high altitudes mean that the tea plants grow more slowly. And the slower the growing process, the more minerals are absorbed, so the tea leaves become thicker and a lusher green. Each plantation and each mountain produce its bouquet of flavours and potent health properties.

alishan tea area
Alishan Tea Area

2.2 China

Some of the better-known oolong teas from China are: Da Hong PaoShui Jin GuiTieguanyin

2.3 Other Origins

Darjeeling oolong tea,  Assam smoked oolong: Vietnamese oolong.

3. How Is Oolong Tea Made?

The reason why Oolong tea has a noticeable aroma and taste is its making process. Its processing involves many more steps than white, green, and black tea, as well as more varieties resulting from how tea leaves are processed. You find it hard to go back to green tea or black tea once you taste the middle and ending aroma of Oolong tea.

Here is the process of how Art of Tea Vessles’s Oolong Tea is made.

  • Step 1 Hand-Picking Tea

The top three to four leaves of new growth from a tea plant give the best raw material for making Oolong tea. So, the first step is to pick those leaves usually by hand in Taiwan. However, choosing the tea leaves is the best way to harvest the new growth. Machine harvesting of tea leaves is uncommon due to the accesibility of the machine in the high, steep mountains.

  • Step 2 Outdoor Withering

Once you pick the leaves, it is time for withering or sun drying. During this step, the leaves of tea spread out in indirect sunlight. It evaporates the water from the tea leaves while activating the enzymes and helps to build amino acids and polysaccharides. This enhances the sweetness of the tea and prepares the leaves for the next step of the process.

  • Step 3 Indoor Fermenting

Once the water gets evaporated from the tea leaves, they are placed indoors for further withering and cooling. This is termed fermenting indoors. And this is when the bruising process starts.

  • Step 4 Roasting

When the desired oxidation level is reached, the enzymes are deactivated using heat. This process is called roasting or frying and is done by panning the tea leaves under 330℃ in a hot rotating drum. After the roasting process, the astringency of tea disappears, which makes the flavour, taste, and colour of tea beverage remain stable

  • Step 5 Rolling

Now, the tea leaves are twisted or rolled into a ball shape using rollers. It helps to break the leaf to develop a rich flavour.

  • Step 6 Drying

Again the tea leaves are dried to eliminate any moisture left in them. During this step, the stems are also partly removed to eliminate the bitterness. After this, depending on the type of tea, roasting is done.

Note: The rolling and drying process is repeated for 10 to 12 hours.

  • Step 7 Finishing

When the final processing is done, the producers pack the tea for sale. Most Taiwanese tea producers pack their tea in bulk vacuum-sealed bags to sell wholesale to customers.

Screen Shot 2022 10 20 at 17.03.20
Oolong Tea Making Process

4. How To Choose Oolong Tea?

When it comes to buying an Oolong tea, there are a lot of options available to choose one. But, it needs proper knowledge to choose the best Oolong tea to get its benefits. Here’s a quick guide to selecting the Oolong tea for yourself and your family.

  • By The aroma of Oolong tea

For buying Oolong tea, its fragrance or aroma is the thing you should consider. Among all tea categories, only Oolong Tea goes through the roasting process, which gives Oolong Tea multiple fragrances and aftertastes. When the roasting time is low or medium, the aroma and taste vary from sucrose sugar to molasses sugar and to brown sugar. When the roasting degrees reach above medium to high, the tea tastes citrus, nutty, savoury and smoky and woody.

For instance, the aroma of green tea will be similar to sucrose sugar, and the tea from high mountain Dong Ding, Da Yu Ling, gives a molasses sugar aroma. On the other hand, if you check the oriental beauty of Tie Guan yin, it smells like brown sugar. The scent of the red Oolong tea is similar to nutty and savoury, and red jade black tea gives smoky, woody flavours.

Screen Shot 2021 04 29 at 14.55.47
What Is Oolong Tea? And Everything You Need to Know About Oolong Tea 14
  • By The Colour of Oolong Tea Beverage

The colour of the tea beverage depends on the oxidisation degree. When the tea is oxidised between 0% and 50%, the liquid of the tea turns from pale green to mint green and lime green. And the tea aroma and taste change from garden fresh to flowery and down mellow fruit taste.

Screen Shot 2021 04 29 at 14.10.08
What Is Oolong Tea? And Everything You Need to Know About Oolong Tea 15

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content in Oolong tea depends on its type. However, a cup of Oolong tea has less caffeine than a cup of green or black tea. It depends on various techniques used by tea producers for roasting, ageing, drying, oxidation, and more. Red Oolong tea has low caffeine as compared to mint green tea. So, the dark the colour of the tea more is the more caffeine it is.

5. How to Brew Oolong Tea?

Due to the complex flavours of Oolong tea, it’s important to brew it right. It might be a bit tough to understand its brewing technique initially, but with the right strategies and little patience, you will soon become a master in brewing Oolong and loose-leaf tea.

Before starting, we recommend you use clay or a porcelain teapot for brewing Oolong tea. That’s because they can retain heat and keep the water hot for a long time. It is also porous, which means it can soak the flavours of the tea more nicely. We also recommend using boiling water to preheat the teapot. Pre-heating helps the brewed tea to maintain the proper temperature and keep the taste intact.

s oolong tea brewing by teapot
Oolong Tea Brewing by Teapots
  1. Loose-leaf oolong tea brewing guide by teapots:
  • Tea to water ratio: 1 gram tea: 100 ml water. If you have a small teapot, use approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea.
  • Water temperature: 95-100 degrees of water for bold pellets tea and 90-95 degrees of water for long curly-leaf tea.
  • Brewing time: 8 mins for bold pellets tea and 5 mins for long curly-leaf tea.
s oolong tea brewing by tumbler
Oolong Tea Brewing Guide by Tumblers

2. Loose-leaf oolong tea brewing guide by tumblers:

  • Tea Amount: one teaspoon for bold pellets tea and one table spoon for long curly-leaf tea
  • Water temperature: 95-100 degrees of water for bold pellets tea and 90-95 degrees of water for long curly-leaf tea
  • Brewing time: 8 mins for bold pellets tea and 5 mins for long curly-leaf tea.
s oolong tea brewing cups
Oolong Tea Brewing Guide by Tea Cups

3. Loose-leaf oolong tea brewing guide by tea cups:

  • Tea Amount: one teaspoon for bold pellets tea and one table spoon for long curly-leaf tea
  • Water temperature: 95-100 degrees of water for bold pellets tea and 90-95 degrees of water for long curly-leaf tea
  • Brewing time: 8 mins for bold pellets tea and 5 mins for long curly-leaf tea.

Just like this, you can also brew a cold Oolong tea for drinking. For cold Oolong tea, pour some lukewarm/cold water into the tea leaves. Cover the teapot lid and put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours. After 6 hours, it’s ready to serve. Cold Oolong tea is a refreshing alternative to hot versions, especially in summer. However, the brewing method is slower and might need more time to draw flavours from the tea leaves. So, you might have to start preparing it a bit early.

Note: It’s recommended to consume Cold Oolong tea within 24 hours of its preparation.

6. Nutrients and Benefits in Oolong Tea

Like any other tea, Oolong tea has several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are useful for providing good health benefits. Its richness in antioxidants helps protect the cells from free radicals that may cause various chronic ailments. Oolong tea’s nutrient-rich characteristics can offer the following benefits to the human body:

  • Good Cardiovascular Health: Oolong tea can promote a healthy heart through its polyphenols. These polyphenols can break the triglycerides in the human body and reduce the chances of heart diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.
  • Lower Blood Sugar Levels: As per research, Oolong tea can lower plasma glucose levels in type 2 diabetic patients. This is helpful for diabetics as controlled sugar levels can prevent complications in the patients due to the disease.
  • Boosts Metabolism: Are you wondering if Oolong tea burns belly fat? Well, Oolong tea can encourage fat burning in obese people and ensure better weight management. Besides that, the polyphenols in Oolong tea can boost the metabolism by up to 10% and help in the rapid burning of the stomach and under-arm fat.
  • Improves Brain Function: Oolong tea is known for having epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, which can increase brain waves and result in relaxation or focused attention. EGCG is also present in green tea, which is well-known for helping with memory decline and cognition issues. So, Oolong tea can surely help in maintaining good brain health.
  • Promotes Healthy Gut: Hot Oolong tea has a soothing effect on the stomach and can stimulate digestion after consuming a high-fat diet. It comes with antiseptic properties, which means your gut can stay clear of any unwanted bacteria. Oolong tea can also reduce stomach inflammation in the digestive tract to keep ulcers and acid reflux at bay.
  • Improves Liver Function: Oolong tea can also keep the liver healthy. According to research, it’s responsible for preventing the fatty liver induced due to a high-fat diet in mice. This means it can, on some level, support the liver and help clear the toxins from the body more effectively.
  • Reduces Stress: As Oolong tea is a good source of caffeine, it can keep those stress levels at a limit. For those who don’t know, caffeine and L-theanine (also present in Oolong tea) can contribute to relaxation and calmness. It can also reduce distraction and boost attention for better stress management.

Besides these benefits, Oolong tea can help improve oral health and fight cancer cells. Also, Oolong is good for the skin. Nutrition-wise, it is rich in Potassium, Fluoride, Magnesium, Manganese, Sodium, Niacin, Polyphenols

7. Side Effects, Precautions, Risks, And Considerations

  • Side Effects

Oolong tea is safe for healthy adults if it’s consumed within limits. The consumption limit for Oolong tea is 4 cups per day. It is recommended not to exceed this limit, as it might result in caffeine over-intake. You may experience headaches, nervousness, sleep problems or irregular heartbeat due to long caffeine overconsumption. Some people have complained of developing a dependency on Oolong tea through excessive drinking. They have also faced withdrawal symptoms after stopping their consumption.

  • Precautions and Considerations

For pregnant women, it is recommended to consult your healthcare professional first before consuming Oolong tea. In general, three cups a day of Oolong tea is possibly safe to drink. It is recommended not to exceed this limit, as its overconsumption is related to miscarriage, premature delivery, and an underweight child at birth.

If breastfeeding, keep your caffeine content (due to Oolong tea) as low as 1-2 two cups a day. That’s because caffeine can transfer into breast milk. Its overconsumption can affect your child and can cause irritability, sleep issues, and more bowel activity in them. It’s also advisable for postmenopausal women to drink Oolong tea cautiously.

In conclusion, Taiwan Oolong tea offers many benefits to people. Also, it is the most refined form of tea in the market. It is a product made from the Camellia sinensis plant through special processing. It is low in caffeine and has many different colours compared to black tea. Buy it from a trusted store to taste its rich flavour!

Now, enough of reading! Let’s enjoy our cuppa! Check this link to choose your tea!

You might also enjoy

Scroll to Top