What is oolong tea?
If you look at tea in terms of the colour of infusion, oolong tea sits along the scale of green to black, offering an impressive breadth of flavour. An lightly roasted oolong tea can be golden green in infusion with floral and creamy notes, whereas as a heavily roasted oolong will present an infusion rich with amber hues and woody, fruity character. For connoisseurs of tea, it is considered the most rewarding type to explore. If you’re not familiar with oolong, continue on with our oolong guide to learn more.
What unifies and characterises oolong as a tea type is the partial oxidisation that the leaves undergo during processing, the levels of which will ultimately determine the taste. Variances in how oolong is roasted is also a contributing factor to whether the tea will taste light, floral and fresh, or rich, nutty and caramelised, as well as many other notes and extremes in between the taste spectrum.
The tea leaves are carefully picked and then laid to wither in ambient conditions, which reduces the moisture content. To oxidise the leaves, it is common to toss them in bamboo baskets which bruises the leaves. To prevent them from oxidising further, heat is applied to fix them in their state. After this, the leaves will be shaped: either twisted or rolled into tightly furled balls. Then roasted to add richness, the tea is then dried to a moisture content of less than 5% for storage.
Where is oolong tea from?
We source our oolong teas from China and Taiwan, taking you on a journey from the ancient myths surrounding famed Iron Buddha (Tie Guan Yin) to the home of Li Shan in the mountainous heights of the Taichung region. China is the true home of oolong – and all tea for that matter – but oolong is also a cornerstone of tea culture in Taiwan and has been for centuries.
We often talk about ‘the taste of origin’ at JING and it is oolong that really helps us describe what we mean by this statement: an oolong from iconic tea region Wuyi (Fujian, China) will traditionally taste dark, nutty and fruity owing to the rich and fertile climes of this are and the deep roasting it undergoes – we will taste extensively across gardens in Wuyi to find the best example of this. An oolong from the highest mountains in Taiwan, however, will taste supremely light and floral as a result of being grown at high altitude and roasted very little.
Oolong Tea Health Benefits
Oolong has long been regarded for its health benefits, owing to the high levels of antioxidants present in tea and its wealth of vitamins and minerals. Oolong tea as a type is also high in polyphenol as a result of the way it is processed. Studies have indicated that oolong tea is good for boosting the metabolism, controlling insulin, and removing free radicals.
When it comes to tea and speculative health benefits, however, the only thing said with certainty is that the best tea for you is the one (or ones) that you enjoy the most.
It’s important to note that oolong tea contains caffeine – if you’re concerned about the levels found in tea, be sure to read our guide to tea and caffeine.
Picking the right oolong tea
The perfect introduction to Taiwan’s acclaimed high mountain oolongs, our Ali Shan boasts fresh notes of orchard fruits with depth of vanilla and ricotta curd.
Phoenix Honey Orchid
The darker side of oolong from the Phoenix Mountains of Guangdong China, with bold, complex fruit flavours and richly roasted character,
From the famous Wuyi region of China, where oolong originated, this tea has a rich, buttery warmth lifted by caramel sweetness and subtle floral notes.
How else to enjoy Oolong
Iron Buddha & Cep Fudge
A surprisingly rich and delicious fudge recipe, paired with the equally creamy character of our Iron Buddha Oolong.
Oolong Poached Peaches
Darkly roasted oolong teas work beautifully in this seasonal recipe for poached peaches, eliciting woody, caramel and floral notes.
Spotlight on Ali Shan
Everything you need to know about our Ali Shan: history, origin & advice on how else to enjoy this wonderfully light oolong.