About Oolong Tea
The Most Rewarding Tea Type?
The most varied and complex of all tea types, oolong teas are regarded amongst many tea connoisseurs to be the most exciting of all. Originating from China’s Fujian Province, oolong teas have been a cornerstone of tea culture in China and Taiwan for centuries. These incredible teas are more recently beginning to enjoy real favour on the global stage. The breadth of flavours and textures will take you on a journey from the ancient myths surrounding China’s famed Iron Buddha (Tie Guan Yin) to the highest mountains of Taiwan.
The Taste of True Oolong Tea
A category of extraordinary breadth and complexity oolong teas are characterised by partial oxidisation of the tea leaves. Levels of oxidisation as well as levels of roasting are key parameters in the taste profile of any oolong. A lightly oxidised Li Shan from Taiwan should taste supremely floral, light and refreshing. A heavily oxidised and roasted oolong from China’s Wuyi mountiain should taste darkly nutty, fruity and rich. There are more extremes and everything in between; a wonderful spectrum waiting to be explored.
How Oolong Tea is Made
The Key: Partial Oxidisation
The unifying characteristic amongst oolong teas is the partial oxidisation of the leaf. Generally, picked leaves are withered and then bruised (usually by tossing in bamboo baskets) to encourage a limited degree of oxidisation. When the desired oxidisation level has been reached a sha qing phase (“kill green”) fixes the leaves before they undergo further shaping and roasting stages, often involving many iterations.
Pickers carefully and quickly select suitable leaves from the tea bush.
The leaves are laid out in ambient conditions to allow them to wilt and lose moisture.
The leaves are tossed in bamboo baskets to bruise the leaf, allowing more oxidisation.
To de-activate the enzymes that would otherwise cause the leaf to oxidise.
To create the unique style of each tea, such as rolled Iron Buddha.
Roasting the leaves adds an extra taste dimension and richness.
To reduce the moisture content of the leaves to 5% for storage.
Oolong Tea Making Tips
Key Making Tips
Whereas for green teas cooler water is recommended to avoid extracting bitter-tasting tannins, in oolong teas, the partial oxidisation process alters polyphenols in tea from tannins (e.g. catechins) to thearubigins and gives a more delicious fruity flavour that requires 95ºC+ to be fully extracted. Many high quality oolong teas can be re-infused up to 3 or 4 times, but be sure to fully decant each infusion to avoid over-infusing. Read our carefully designed recipes on each product page to get the perfect tasting cup.