Not too bitter, not too dark, but just right! Strike the perfect balance with The Tea Centre’s collection of oolong teas.
Given the dark, curled and twisted appearance of their leaves, it’s no wonder that the traditional Chinese name for oolong (Wulong) means ‘black dragon’. Similar to the wings of a mythical dragon, oolong leaves steep, unfurl and come to life… when infused in water, that is!
Sitting in between black tea and green tea, oolongs have the exceptional quality of containing all the good things tea drinkers seek from each end of the tea leaf spectrum. Moreover, their taste varies depending on how long the tea merchant oxidises the loose leaves for. Find out all about that process—plus our personal oolong favourites—below.
How we produce oolong tea
As a semi-oxidised leaf, oolong tea can sometimes lean towards being a little greener like our Vietnamese High Mountain Oolong or darker like our Fancy Oolong from Taiwan. Therefore, the colour of the loose leaf generally reflects how long the oolong has been left to oxidise for.
Traditionally, Chinese oolongs are less oxidised, which produces a lighter, green-looking tea. In turn, Taiwanese oolongs undergo longer oxidation processes, producing darker leaves and deeper flavour.
Why are there so many varieties of oolong tea?
Unlike white tea or green teas where tea farmers stymy the oxidation process early on (through air drying, steaming, roasting or wok-firing loose leaves), we purposefully accelerate the oxdisation of oolongs through a process known as ‘bruising’. This is where tea makers break the cell walls of leaves by tossing them in closed containers.
Then, before the leaf oxidises further and turns into a black tea, we halt the oxidation through some sort of firing/heating method. The flexibility around when the firing occurs is the reason why we have such a great variety of oolong flavour profiles, aromas, and colours.
If we had to put a rough estimate to it, oolongs can be anywhere between 30-80% oxidised! No matter if we’re talking dark Fancy Oolong or a distinctively green Ti Kuan Yin; they both fall into the oolong spectrum.
Moreover, you can have fusion oolongs too! A great example of this is our Mellow Cream Oolong. This beautiful and delicious blend sports bright purple mallow blossoms, bee pollen, safflowers, and almond brittle alongside oolong tea.
Oolong health benefits
One of the most common reasons for drinking oolong, besides being an enjoyable cuppa, is for health! Coming from the Camellia Sinensis plant (common tea bush), oolong offers many of the same benefits as green and black teas.
Everything from providing glowy skin and improving teeth enamel to stabilising blood sugar, increasing mental alertness, and aiding digestion have been attributed to this wonderous tea.
However, it’s important to note that tea一in general and with daily consumption一will only produce marginal positive impacts. Oolong is by no means a miracle treatment!
We say this as we often have customers come into our stores and ask for oolongs because they are a supposed “weight loss tea”. While some studies have shown that a rise in metabolism can potentially occur after drinking oolong, The Tea Centre prefers to promote what our tea gives (happiness & warmth!) as opposed to what it could help you lose.
How to prepare oolong tea
Did you know that most oolong teas will expand upon infusion? This is especially true of our stunning Dung Ti Oolong tea! This beautiful, jade-coloured loose leaf comes is rolled into quaint little balls that flourish into large whole leaves when put in water.
Because of this, it is ideal to use large infusers when brewing oolongs. This also helps to achieve the fullest flavour possible from your oolong of choice. If you’re just making the one cup, consider using a mug infuser instead of the smaller tea ball infusers.
Alternatively, if you’re brewing oolong tea in a teapot, we suggest allowing the leaves to swirl and dance in the pot. No need for an infuser at all! Furthermore, to avoid pouring leaves into your teacup, you can always use a strainer.
The best bit? You can brew oolong leaves up to three times! Some oolong-drinkers even repute that the second or third infusions offer the best brew. For more handy infusion tips, check out The Tea Centre’s brewing guide.
Ready to savour the world of oolong teas? Then be sure to explore our entire oolong collection here!