Oolong is a type of traditional Chinese tea which has been shown to have numerous health benefits.
An introduction to oolong tea
While there are many stories involving the origin of oolong tea, it's generally agreed upon that oolong was first processed during the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644), when it was given as a tribute tea to the Chinese emperor.
In those older times, oolong was referred to as "wu-long", which when translated, means "black dragon", a term which is said to have reflected the dark and twisted appearance of the tea leaves.
Although oolong is a distinct variety of tea with its own unique history and flavor profile, it's made from the same type of plant (Camellia sinensis) that is used to produce white tea, green tea, and black tea. But due note that there are many varieties, cultivars and regional subtypes of Camellia sinensis that are better suited for a specific type of tea.
The variations between these styles of tea are primarily attributable to the use of different processing techniques during production. While white tea and green tea leaves are mostly unoxidized, and black tea leaves are fully oxidized, oolong lies somewhere in between, with an oxidization level ranging from approximately 10 to 85%. This can lead to oolong tea having some unusual and interesting characteristics which are rarely found in other types of tea.
Since the category of oolong tea is so diverse, it can have a wide array of flavor profiles. For example, when the oxidization level is on the lower side, the flavor is typically vegetal and floral. Conversely, when the oxidization level is on the higher side, the flavor of oolong becomes more similar to a black tea, often exhibiting a dark, roasted character and some varieties may even have a fruity taste.
Health benefits of oolong tea
Since tea has long been touted as an herbal medicine and folk remedy, there has been an extensive amount of research performed on it. Recent studies have shown that tea may have a variety of health benefits, such as improving heart health, aiding in weight loss, improving digestive health, and possibly reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
However, it's important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of oolong tea and how it interacts with different individuals and health conditions.
We will discuss some of oolong tea's potential health benefits in the sections below.
Nutrition and antioxidants
Tea is an ancient herbal remedy which has been shown to contain numerous beneficial compounds, including antioxidants such as polyphenols, theaflavins, and catechins, which can help to protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress.
In addition to its antioxidant potential, oolong tea often contains reasonable quantities of important minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and potassium1.
Of course, tea also contains caffeine, which is a common stimulant also found in other consumer products such as coffee and chocolate. However, tea also contains l-theanine, an amino acid which is thought to modulate the effects of caffeine. One study found that l-theanine eliminated the vasoconstrictive and behavioral effects of caffeine2.
Many of the studies performed on the tea plant have been in regards to its relation to heart health.
For example, a study conducted in China examined the correlation between oolong tea consumption and cholesterol levels, as high cholesterol levels are often associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease3.
The study found that individuals who consumed at least 10 ounces of oolong tea per week had reduced risks of having high total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, those who had been consuming oolong tea for a longer period of time exhibited lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.
Their research also indicates that green and black tea have similar effects and benefits.
Another study conducted on Japanese men and women examined the effect of coffee, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea consumption on the risk of heart disease. The researchers found that people who consumed one or more cups of oolong tea per day had a lower risk of heart disease4.
Reduces the risk of chronic disease
In addition to its effects on heart health, some studies have that tea can help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
For example, some research has shown that oolong tea may help prevent type 2 diabetes5.
Another study, conducted in Taiwan, investigated the potential correlation between tea consumption and the possibility of developing head, neck or throat cancer6.
Their initial research indicated that drinking one cup of oolong tea daily was linked to a 4% decrease in risk, but this finding was not considered statistically significant. In contrast, they found that consuming one cup of green tea per day was associated with a 6% decrease in risk.
Another research study, this time on Chinese women, discovered that drinking green, black, or oolong tea was connected to a lower chance of developing ovarian cancer7.
Despite these findings, the National Cancer Institute asserts that the evidence regarding tea and its associated cancer risk is inconclusive at this time8.
Increases bone density
As humans age, one of the major health concerns they face is a weakening skeletal structure and corresponding bone density. Since bones typically become with weaker with age, and at the same time, falling often becomes more common, this can lead to broken bones in later years.
While exercise and weightlifting are often recommended tactics to help maintain bone strength9, some studies have shown that drinking tea over a longer period of time can also result in increased bone mineral density10.
In Chinese culture, oolong tea has long been associated with weight loss.
It's interesting to note that recent studies seem to correlate with these beliefs.
In a study involving overweight and obese Chinese adults, the impact of oolong tea consumption on body weight was examined. The participants were instructed to consume 300 milliliters of oolong tea four times a day. After six weeks, over 50% of the participants had shed more than one kilogram11.
Another study found that oolong tea increases metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men12.
The tea plant is known to be a hyperaccumulator of fluoride. This is the same mineral that is often added to toothpaste and mouthwash to help prevent cavities and other forms of tooth decay.
Disclaimer: It is important to note that while oolong tea may have potential health benefits, it should not be considered a cure or a substitute for medical treatment. As with any dietary supplement, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before adding it to your diet.
Where to get oolong tea
We offer a great variety of oolong teas in our shop!