by David Williams
It is further influenced by the amount of fermentation it goes through so the flavour of each Oolong tea can be quite different. It is known as Black Dragon tea in China. Other nations produce Oolong teas, including – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, Kenya and Malawi. Chinese produced varieties are the most popular as this is where the tea originated.
There are different varieties of Oolong tea produced in China. Wuyi Rock Tea from Fujian Province is the most sort after so is the most expensive. In Guangdong Province, Dan Cong is grown which can imitate flavours of a range of fruits. It is an unusual tea as it doesn't grow like a bush but rather like a tree with a single trunk with branches. Whatever can be grown in Fujian can also be grown in Taiwan. And Oolong tea is no exception. Their Oolong teas differ widely as the island has a great variety in geography and geology. The Taiwanese manage to grow one tea at a high altitude which gives it a uniquely sweet flavour. It sells for a premium price.
What makes Oolong unique is the fact that the leaves are left out in strong sun to oxidise causing the leaf to curl as it dries. The leaf is formed in two different styles. It is mostly rolled into long curls but some leaves are made into small beads with a tail by wrap curling.
There are certain health benefits in drinking Oolong tea. These are very similar to green tea as discussed in a previous article. The benefits are weaker through oxidisation. The longer the leaf is left to oxidise, the fewer benefits will be gained. Even after oxidisation it is still a healthy option as the tea contains antioxidants especially quercetin which helps blood flow. It has a high potassium content which helps conduct the body's electricity to the brain and heart. The amino acid L Theanine helps relax the drinker stimulating a feeling of well-being. Oolong tea can help reduce cholesterol, prevent heart problems, help digestion, strengthens the immune system, can fight tooth decay, and help in weight loss.
Only a very small proportion of tea sold in the UK is Oolong. The best option is to buy it on line from a reputable supplier as it's difficult to find in shops. It's very popular in China and is slowly spreading around the world including here. It has a delicate flavour much like green tea. Black tea is favoured in the UK with a much stronger flavour but less beneficial ingredients.
For brewing use 2 teaspoons of tea per cup. The water needs to be 93C to 96C and steeping needs to be for 3 to 10 minutes depending on strength. The leaves can be used more than once so even though it seems like you are using a lot of tea it can be economical. The best brews are those from the 3rd and 4th steeping although it can be used up to 5 times. It is the only tea which I know to be better after the first few steepings.
For those who like something different, Oolong tea can be used in cakes. There are many Oolong tea cakes but the one mentioned the most is a Oolong chiffon cake. It sounds delicious made with lots of eggs, cream and sugar. Not really as healthy an option as drinking the tea but great for a treat.
However you take Oolong tea, enjoy it!