Oolong is one of the most famous names in the world of tea but did you know that it only accounts for 2% of the world’s tea? Perhaps it is the rarity of this iconic drink that makes it one of the most sought-after teas in the world but we’re more inclined to think that it’s the many amazing health benefits of this traditional Chinese tea that makes it so popular. But before we get to those, let’s first learn a little about Oolong Tea.
The history of Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea as we know it today has a long and storied past. It is believed to have originated in the Beiyun region of Fujian Province in China sometime during the Tang Dynasty era which lasted from the year 618 to 907.
Due to its unique flavor, the original Oolong Tea which was then known as Beiyun Tea was the first tea used as a tribute tea. A tribute tea was one which was grown on the specific orders of the emperor so it could be given as a gift in the royal court. For hundreds of years, Beiyun Tea was the most famous tea in China in part due to its affiliation with the royal court but mostly because of its unique earthy taste.
It was known by many names such as Wuyi and Cliff tea throughout history, but in 1796 after years of experimentation, a new variety of the tea was born and named Oolong Tea.
People familiar with Taiwan will know that many of the Chinese migrants who settled on the island originated from Fujian Province. And so it should come as no surprise that they took their incredible tea-growing skills to their new home and so the Oolong Teas that we buy today can, in fact, come from both China and Taiwan.
The varieties of Oolong Tea
The areas that produce the most Oolong Tea are Fujian, Wuyi, and Guangdong in south-west China and Nantou, Pinglin, and Alishan in Taiwan. Due to their different climates and weather patterns, teas from different areas can offer incredibly contrasting tastes.
As you can imagine, with so many areas and those differing climates, there are innumerable varieties of the tea but here are some of the most famous and popular.
Alishan Tea, one of the many variety of Oolong Tea
- Red Robe (Wuyi)
- Gold Turtle (Wuyi)
- Iron Monk (Wuyi)
- White Comb (Wuyi)
- Iron Goddess Guanyin (Fujian)
- Golden Cassia (Fujian)
- Single Bush (Guangdong)
- Pouchong (Pinglin)
- Alishan Oolong (Alishan)
- Dong Ding Oolong (Nantou)
As with teas from all over the world, there is no single variety of Oolong that is considered the best as it is all down a drinker’s personal preferences.
Benefits of Oolong Tea
Although there’s no argument that Oolong Tea offers incredible flavors, it’s the amazing health benefits of this tea that makes it an everyday drink for many tea lovers all over the world.
Oolong Tea for Weight loss
It boosts your metabolism
And as we all know, a healthy metabolism means that it’s often easier to lose weight. By raising your metabolism for at least two hours after drinking, you can burn calories and fat.
It lowers your cholesterol
Oolong Tea promotes heart health by helping to lower your cholesterol levels while dissolving body fat.
It helps you stay alert
A cup of Oolong Tea is known to promote mental alertness which should come as no surprise as it also contains caffeine.
It helps you digest food
Oolong Tea allows you to digest food more easily by alkalizing the digestive tract. It also stops inflammation which helps those with acid reflux and ulcers.
It adds shine to your hair
Some people make a rinse from Oolong Tea and put it in their hair to prevent hair loss and to give them thicker and smoother hair.
It promotes healthy skin
Oolong Tea helps to fight allergies which can cause skin problems. It is also believed to slow down the aging process giving regular drinkers youthful and fresh skin.
It helps your teeth
And it helps your teeth by preventing tooth decay. Green teas, in general, can help protect your teeth from acids that can cause them to decay while they also help reduce the build-up of plaque.
It promotes healthy bones
People who drink Oolong Tea on a regular basis are more likely to retain minerals from the healthy foods that they eat. This helps promote healthy bones and as an added bonus Oolong leaves have also been found to contain calcium and magnesium.
It boosts your immune system
As a tea full of antioxidants, Oolong keeps you in good health by preventing cellular damage and by assisting your body in the production of anti-bacterial proteins thereby boosting your immune system.
Of course, the slight downside to Oolong Tea and green teas is that they contain caffeine. However, if you control your daily intake and try not to drink too much before bedtime, this is something that you really don’t need to worry about.
How to prepare a cup of Oolong Tea
Now, there are many schools of thought on the tea-making process but generally speaking, preparing Oolong Tea is all down to your own drinking preferences. Some like to prepare a pot and let it cool before drinking while others prefer to drink theirs piping hot.
Making a cup or pot
For every 200ml of water add a level teaspoon of rolled Oolong or as much as two tablespoons if the leaves are loose and large.
Boil some fresh cold water.
Steep the tea for a minimum of one minute and a maximum of five. You can experiment with this in order to find the perfect balance for the variety of Oolong tea you have chosen.
If you prefer your tea sweet, consider adding a drop of natural honey to your cup as this is a much tastier and healthier option than adding refined sugar from the supermarket.
Once again, you must remember that drinking tea is an extremely personal experience and it is rare that any two people will enjoy their tea in the exact same way. Experiment with steeping times and even the source and temperature of your water to help you find that perfect balance we spoke of earlier.
As a tea with such a variety of tastes and all those amazing health benefits, it’s little wonder that Oolong Teas are considered some of the very best in the world.