Oolong 101

For many, green tea is the gateway to cultivating a love for fine teas. Black teas remain classic and time-honored, as they are the teas most ingrained in our culture, an influence of the British. Oolong is a class of teas that finds itself in between Green and Black teas, in terms of flavor, caffeine content, color, and oxidation level. For this reason, the more accessible Greens and Blacks can sometimes obscure Oolong tea in America. However, it is well worth the effort to open our minds and taste buds to the allure of Oolong, which is an extraordinary and sophisticated category of tea that ranges in flavor from sweet and floral to dark and nutty.

Oxidation is an enzymatic process, like that of an apple browning from exposure to the air, that browns and wilts the tea leaves. How long the leaves are allowed to oxidize determines much of their flavor, as well as what category of tea they fall into, e.g. Black, Oolong, Green. The more oxidized the tea, the darker and more robust it becomes. Green teas are not at all oxidized, which gives them their green color, bright taste and yellow broth. Black teas are the most oxidized of all teas, which you can tell by the dark color of the dried leaves, as well as by the dark broth they produce. Oolong tea finds itself in the middle of this spectrum, and occupies quite a range of oxidation levels. Those at the lower end of the oxidation spectrum have fresh, sweet, greener, and more floral notes, as well as a greener tea leaves, while those at the higher end of the spectrum have darker, more robust, nutty, and roasted notes, and leaves with darker hues of brown and charcoal.

At Arogya we feature seven varieties of straight Oolong teas, from both China and Taiwan. These teas demonstrate the range in flavor and oxidation found in Oolongs. From the greener end at the top left, to the darker end at the bottom right:

Left to right: Tie Kuan Yin, Jade, Wenshan Baozhong, Aged Tie Guan Yin, Oriental Beauty (aka Bai Hao), Wuyi, Da Hong Pao

As you can see, the color of the leaves spans the spectrum between green and black. Some Oolong tea leaves are rolled, like Jade and Tie Kuan Yin, while the others are twisted.

Oolong teas can be both simple everyday teas, as well as highly prized and expensive teas. For example, Oolong is what is served in most Chinese restaurants in America. At the same time, in China, some varieties of Oolong are the most expensive of all Chinese teas. The finest and most rare Oolong teas are valued at over a million dollars per pound.

Oolong tea is beloved by business professionals and students alike for the mental clarity and sustained focus it provides. For this reason, it is a wonderful tea to drink while working, studying or in a business meeting. Oolong tea is also known to increase the metabolism, which is why it is known as a good tea for weight loss. At Arogya, Wuyi Oolong features prominently in our Weight Loss Tea blend.

Whether you are diving deeper into the world of fine teas, looking for a tea to support concentration or weight-loss, or you are simply in the market for a new, delicious tea, Oolongs offer a great variety of teas to suit your needs and palate. Come by Arogya to sample some of our favorite Oolongs!

 

by Chloe Bolton