Did somebody say oolong? It’s us!
As a Heavenly Tea Leaves favorite, oolong is one of the lesser known teas, but we think it’s about time to show our appreciation for this delicious tea.
Starting at the beginning, it’s important to differentiate this traditional Chinese tea (that’s now also produced in places like Taiwan) from the rest. What makes oolong physically stand out from more traditional green and black teas? It’s often considered an in-between option, in some capacity offering the best of both worlds.
According to Healthline, oolong is “made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed.” Oolong is left to oxidize between 20% and 80% of the way, as opposed to none for greens and 100% for blacks. The tea is then rolled and dried, after which it is usually roasted for various amounts of time, depending on the intended taste. In the past, rolling tea was a way of preserving them on their long journeys along routes like the Silk Road. Today, rolling these teas is mainly done as a means of bringing out their deep and nuanced flavor profiles. Like peeling an onion, each infusion reveals a new layer of flavor, as the tea unfurls with each steeping. Some experts recommend brewing oolongs multiple times.
Per Serious Eats, oolong is a real gourmet tea: “In a way, oolongs are the most cheffy teas out there,” writex Max Falkowitz. “While good growing conditions certainly matter, the quality of an oolong is largely dependent on the skill of the person processing it . . . Get it right and you have a tea with marvelous complexity, one that develops and evolves in your cup more than any black or green tea. Some oolongs can be steeped a dozen times or more, and by the time you're finished, the final steep may feel like it's from a totally different tea.”
So, what else is it that we love so much about this earthy, delightful brew?
Its variety, for one. This versatile tea comes in a huge range of colors and flavors–grassy to roasted, green to brown, fruity to woody–based on how it’s oxidized and processed. As luck would have it, Heavenly Tea Leaves has an assortment of oolongs for any tea mood you’re in. In addition to different flavors and origins, oolong tea also works well as part of a blend, as in Slim Down (combined with sweet and soft flavors like beetroot and hibiscus), as well as in concert with a single, standout aroma, as in the floral-scented Jasmine Oolong infusion, we can’t get enough of.
Oolong teas are just as lovable for their laundry list of health benefits as for their complex taste and velvety smoothness. Certain oolongs have been shown to contain stronger antioxidants and antimutagenic properties than both green and black teas (and we’d say that’s a huge deal). This translates to the potential for less chronic disease and a slower aging process. Sign us up! In addition, the polyphenols present in oolong tea allow for the reduction of insulin resistance, and therefore help reduce the risk of blood sugar–related illnesses like diabetes. From heart health to a cognitive boost and even dental benefits, the advantages go on. We’d be surprised if there’s something that oolong tea isn’t good for.
Last but not least, what’s great about oolong is its smooth and sustained energy boost. This tea contains a moderate amount of caffeine, making it the perfect antidote to sluggishness and a great morning or afternoon pick-me-up. Avoiding the jitters is a common concern; we’ve found that enjoying a brew with some, but not too much naturally occurring caffeine is often the answer.
It seems like the lesson’s learned: Oolong tea is definitely one worth throwing into your daily repertoire if you’re looking for a one-two punch of taste and wellness. Remember to steep in water heated to 190 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes, and up to 3 to 4 times per brew!