Hello hello one & all! A very happy Monday to you 🙂
To start off this week, we will be talking today about the production, health benefits & quick facts about Oolong Tea!
A quick pronunciation lesson – “Ooh-Long“. The origin of Oolong Tea dates back to almost 400 years, originating during the Tang Dynasty. Without further ado, keep reading to learn about the production process & benefits of Ooooh – loooonggg tea – that was just as fun to say as it was to type 🙂
Oolong Tea is made from the bust, stems & leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant, with its main growing regions in the Fujiang and Guangdong provinces of China and Taiwan. This is the same plant that is used to produce green tea and black tea, but the ultimate difference is in the fermentation/oxidation process: Oolong Tea is partially fermented, Black Tea is fully fermented and Green Tea is unfermented.
The production of Oolong Tea is a long one, with several steps to ensure the tea is properly produced.
- First, Oolong tea goes through the process of Withering – picked leaves are spread out (either inside, or outside in the sun) which evaporates the water and begins the process of natural enzymatic fermentation.
- Tossing/Bruising is the next step in the production process – the shaking of the leaves with the aid of machines to further break down the mechanical means which improves the oxidation, mixes chemical elements from the stems with leaves. This removes bitterness from the flavor of the tea.
- Next the leaves go through the process of Oxidation, in which the leaves essentially are left to rest after going through the first 2 processes. The amount of time the tea leaves are left to rest determines how fermented the tea becomes. At this point the leaves turn a dark green or red color due to the breakdown of the cell structure of the leaves.
- The fourth step is Kill-Green – in which the process of fermentation is stopped & growing processes within the leaves cease without damaging them. Some techniques used to do so are steaming the leaves, hand pressing in a hot pan and baking.
- Rolling or Forming the leaves occurs when leaves are passed through hot and/or cold rollers to slightly break down the leaves, which establishes the shape of the leaves and intensifies the flavor of the tea.
- Drying – This process establishes the final moisture content of the leaves, stops fermentation and develops the tea’s aroma.
- Firing – The last step involve various methods of roasting in a pan or a basket with charcoal or electric heat are used to give a smoky flavor or a fruity characteristic.
There are many health benefits to drinking Oolong Tea, including the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory disorders & high cholesterol levels while providing vital antioxidants, promoting superior bone structure, healthy & good dental health. Containing a fruity flavor with a pleasant aroma, the health benefits are doubled in Oolong Tea because it is essentially a combination of green tea & Oolong tea.
Further health benefits include weight management, supports the removal of harmful free radicals within the body, diabetes control, anti-cancer properties, stress management, and helping to improve mental health & physical performance.
A word of caution when consuming Oolong Tea
It is important to remember that Oolong Tea tend to be high in caffeine. Too much oolong tea, more than five cups per day, can cause side effects because of the caffeine. These side effects can range from mild to serious and include headache, sleeping problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremors, heartburn and dizziness.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, oolong tea in small amounts is ok. However, do not drink more than 2 cups a day of oolong tea. Too much caffeine during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, low birth weight, and harm to the baby. Too much caffeine during breast-feeding can cause irritability in nursing infants.
Bean Around Books & Tea‘s sole Oolong Tea is Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, which is for sale both in store and online at www.beanaroundbooks.com.
As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future Tea Culture posts! Cheers! Lindsay 🙂