Oolong (烏龍), also known as "wu-long" or "black dragon", is a type of Chinese tea that is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, which is the same plant that is used to produce black, green, and white tea. The unique processing techniques used to produce oolong tea result in a distinct aroma profile and a wide possibility of flavour notes.
Oolong tea is produced using traditional methods that involve partially oxidising the tea leaves. The oxidation level typically ranges from roughly 10 to 85%, with greener oolongs such as Baozhong being on the lower-end of the spectrum and darker Wuyi oolongs such as Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) being on the higher-end.
The process for producing oolong tea begins with harvesting the tea leaves and then allowing them to wither in order to reduce the moisture content. The leaves are then bruised, often in bamboo baskets, and heated (shaqing), before being rolled, roasted, and packaged. However, the exact process can vary depending upon the desired oxidation level and what style of oolong tea is being made.
Although oolong tea originated from China, many famous oolong teas are also produced in Taiwan, such as Dong Ding and Oriental Beauty.
The taste of oolong tea can vary greatly depending on how it was processed, as well as the specific tea cultivar used to produce it. Some styles of oolong can have a floral or fruity taste, while others may have a roasted, woody, or nut like flavour.
Oolong is often described as being somewhere between red (black) and green tea.
When heavily oxidised, oolong tea becomes much more akin to a red tea (black tea).
Gongfu brewing is a traditional Chinese method of brewing tea that involves using small teapots and cups, strict brewing parameters and short steep times in order to bring out the full potential of the tea.
We consider this method to be the best preparation for oolong tea, as oolong grew up alongside gongfu, and was even known as “gongfu tea” before it was referred to as oolong.
To give general guidelines for all oolong tea's is a bit silly. Each oolong tea has it's own parameters and brewing profile. But we might need a start when brewing a new oolong tea. Try adding 4 grams per 100ml for gongfu brewing, or 4 grams per 400ml for wetern style brewing and see where this takes you.
Oolong tea likes to be stored in an airtight container and away from smells and light. Try and place the tea in a room where the temperature doesn't change much.
To age an oolong tea, it is preferrable to fill up the container to the maximum. Use rice paper to line the inside of a metal tin. For porcelain, you dont have to do this.
If you live in a humid area of the world, make 110% sure the container is airtight. Otherwise moisture will seep in and ruin your tea. If you live in a more dry area, this critera can be let go of a bit more.
Never store your tea for longer term in the kitchen. Smells will get into the tea.
It's believed that the gongfu tea ceremony (工夫茶) originated from the Chaoshan region of Guangdong, China. This area is very close to the Phoenix Mountains, which is considered to be the birthplace of Dan Cong oolongs. Gongfu and the production of oolong tea have a strong historical connection and together they create a harmonious union of the senses.
The term gongfu cha, when loosely translated, means "brewing tea with skill". The art of gongfu requires extensive practice and patience to master, but the fun part is that you get to drink as much tea as you want to while studying!
Oolong tea has a number of potential health benefits, making it a popular choice for those looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Some studies have shown that oolong tea may help with weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, and improve skin health. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect the body from harmful free radicals.