Originating from China and Taiwan, this semi-oxidized tea form is widely popular for its floral aroma with mellow yet robust and earthy flavour and taste.
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Oolong basically means "black dragon tea". It's somewhere between green and black tea in terms of oxidation. It generally ranges from 30% to 70% oxidation. The flavour of oolong tea is complex and intricate. It has a particular set of characteristics for different levels of oxidation. Its flavour varies from earthy and full herbaceous to soft, smooth and sweet.
The broad categories are:
1. Open leaf style : They are unique to Taiwan and identified by their open, slightly curled, leafy appearance and pure, sweet aromas and flavours. They undergo light oxidation.
2. Semi-ball rolled style: They are easily identifiable by their distinctive ball shape with attached pieces of stem. They undergo medium oxidation.
3. Strip-style: They are unique to China. They have distinctive leaf characteristics and dark colour suggesting that the leaf has been highly oxidised and roasted.
China being home to oolong teas has 2 major provinces:
1. Fujian: This is the tea trove to spectacular tea including traditional Jasmine tea. Tea grown in the cliff area of this province is among the most expensive and cherished. The environment is such that it supports the indigeneous, varietal tea bushes.
2. Guandong : These mountains are famous for their unique oolongs. These oolongs are made of freshly-plucked, large sturdy leaves . The leaves are dark, long and slightly thick in appearance.
Taiwan: The roots of oolongs in Taiwan came from the Fujian province of China. But, they are very distinctive in taste and aroma due to the unique terrior and tea making style of Taiwan.
Oolong tea began its journey in the Fujian province of China. It stretches back to more than 1,000 years ago to a traditional form of tea called Beiyuan tea. This tea was a compressed type of tea and the leaves were compressed into cakes. When these went out of fashion with the royalty, the area began producing a partially oxidized loose leaf tea instead – the original oolong tea.
Some benefits are:
1. The tea has anti-inflammatory power and can help with skin rashes and other skin problems if made a part of the daily diet.
2. It also shows evidence of protecting bone structure as we age and also protects against tooth decay.
3. It stimulates enzymes that inhibit the growth of fat cells and can assist in preventing obesity.
Generally, 2 to 3 grams or one teaspoon of tea per 180ml of water should be used. Oolong tea should be prepared with 180-190°F water and steeped for 1-2 minutes.