Join me on my journey to study and teach the rich and rewarding world of wulong tea, a chinese oolong tea to warm you inside and out. We’ll also discuss specific kinds of wulong teas like formosa oolong and wu yi oolong tea.
Wulong Tea Basics
Wulong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that’s more commonly known as Chinese oolong tea. This tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinesis, as black, green and white tea, the difference between them is the way they are processed and the degree of oxidation or fermentation.
Wulong teas are more complicated to process than other teas as they require more steps over a longer period of time. The process naturally allows more personalization by the tea master which results in an wide variety of wu long teas for a tea lover to choose from.
Chinese oolong tea is semi-oxidized ranging somewhere between green tea and black tea in oxidation — green teas are un-oxidized while black teas are fully oxidized. This variety of tea can range between 15% and 85% oxidized depending on the exact tea and how it’s processed.
To process wulong tea first the leaves are placed in the sun to wilt and remove some of the moisture. Then they are placed in baskets and shaken to slightly bruise the leaves and create more surface for oxidation. After they are allowed to oxidized for the desired time the leaves are quickly fired or pan-roasted over high heat to stop the oxidation or fermentation process.
Producing a quality wulong tea involves craftsmanship and the knowledge of time-honored traditions. Producing this specific type of tea is a delicate process — from picking the leaves to the the final steps of packaging the tea. But the most crucial part of producing this tea is knowing when to stop the oxidation or fermentation process. Experience is essential to this part of the process.
Health Benefits of Chinese Oolong Tea
Not only is wulong tea a treat to drink because of it’s distinct flavors, but it is also said to have many health benefits, just like green tea and black tea. In fact the Chinese have a history of using tea as a form of medicine.
Fresh tea leaves are naturally high in catechins. As the tea leaves are oxidized the levels of catechins are reduced, but the levels of theaflavins and thearubigins are increased. So green tea and white tea have the hightest levels of catechins, making them popular for the health benefits of catechins. But wulong tea and black tea have higher levels of theaflavins and thearubigins. Chinese oolong tea, falling between green and black tea in level of oxidation, has a mix of these antioxidants depending on the level of oxidation of the specific tea.
Many people who drink oolong for the health benefits of tea choose organic oolong tea so they don’t take the chance with any added chemicals used to grow the tea leaves.
Wulong tea in particular contains a wide variety of polyphenol compounds. These polyphenols are thought to be instrumental for many health benefits.
Probably the most talked about potential health benefit of wu long tea is it’s potential ability to help with weight loss. The polyphenols in Chinese oolong tea, like those in green tea, are said to slightly speed up metabolism and even help enhance the function of fat metabolism. Some people specifically drink wulong tea for weight loss for this reason. But keep in mind weight loss requires more dietary changes than simply drinking tea.
It’s also believed the polyphenols found in Chinese oolong tea help remove free radicals in the body. Reducing free radicals is an important health benefit because free radical damage can contribute to arteriosclerosis, certain cancers and discoloring and aging of the skin.
Chinese oolong tea is said to help prevent skin damage like dark pigmentation and liver spots. Because of the concentration of polyphenols it’s also thought to help reduce or prevent tooth decay.
Regularly drinking wulong tea may help to reduce plaque in the arteries, reduce cholesterol and help lower blood sugar levels.
So not only can you enjoy Chinese oolong tea for it’s unique, distinct flavor but feel good about all the health benefits that accompany it as well. Try a few varieties to find your favorites and enjoy a cup of wulong tea today!