Oolong tea is semi fermented which is one of the reasons it has such a unique character. The semi fermentation gives the tea a little bit more body than a green tea but less body than a black tea … and interestingly it gives the flavor a very unique twist.
You will see (particularly in the infused leaf) that the edges of the leaves are slightly bruised (brownish). The reason for this is that the leaves are lightly bruised to start the oxidation process.
Because they are more full bodied than green teas, oolong teas must not be picked too early or at too tender a stage. They must be produced immediately. Unlike leaves for green tea, those destined to be oolong are wilted in the direct sun and then shaken in tubular bamboo baskets to bruise the leaf edges. The bruising is what makes the edges oxidize faster than the center. After 15-25 minutes (depending upon ambient temperature and humidity levels) the tea is fired, locking in the special flavor profile. Oolong teas are among the most difficult to make well and require as much art as science.
Not only the best and youngest whole tea leaves are required to make a great oolong tea, but also a real artist to turn those leaves into delicious high quality oolong tea.
Oolong Tea Health Benefits:
A study published in 2003 in the Journal of Medical Investigation by entitled “Oolong Tea Increases Energy Metabolism in Japanese Females” which studied the effects of Wu-Long tea drinking on women showed a high correlation of weight loss with Wu-long tea consumption. In a new study published in the academic journal Archives of Dermatology, researchers from Japan’s Shiga University of Medical Science found that drinking Wu-Long daily dramatically clears up skin within just one month.
In one 2004 study by Dr. Kenichi Yanagimoto and colleagues from the University of California, Davis, people who drank Wu-Long daily experienced a remarkable 50 percent reduction in free radicals within just 15 days!
A new study from Japan’s Osaka University shows the regular consumption of Wu-Long strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay by significantly inhibiting plaque deposition.
And maybe the most notable testament to the power of Oolong tea comes from the Chinese pharmaceutical book Bencao Shiyi (The Compendium of Materia Medica), which says the tea “will make one live long and stay in good shape.”