A Know-All Guide to Oolong Tea
Traditionally, Oolong Tea is considered a variant of Chinese tea, made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis. Incidentally, the same plant is used to make black tea and green tea with the differentiating factor lying in the manner of their processing. The oolong tea derives a unique taste and colour from the partial oxidization of its leaves, a process which releases the enzymes in tea leaves.
Oolong tea leaves are conventionally black in colour, since they are allowed to oxidize completely during their processing stage. The process also gives a unique malty aroma to the tea leaves, which they are popularly known for. Depending on the variation in the level of oxidization, oolong teas might taste more like green or black tea. Another feature which sets oolong tea apart from black and green tea is its unique, twisted shape. These variations arise from the traditional aspect of artisanal shaping techniques that a tea master adopts.
Origins of Oolong tea
Oolong tea originates from China and Taiwan, where it’s quite popular and adopts its unique shape, flavour and appearance. From tales of the black dragon to a sea farmer, oolong tea garners a rich history and finds a revered space in the cultures of both these countries. Oolong tea is grown in mountainous areas and requires cool weather for cultivation. You will usually discover that the tea originating in Taiwan is much greener and lighter in zest than its Chinese counterpart.
Today, the popularity of the oolong tea has given it a place of preference in the cultures of many countries, which is why nations such as India and Sri Lanka are cultivating their own oolong teas.
The making of oolong tea
No matter which tea you might be willing to talk about, each one of them originates from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The resulting product depends on a few factors such as the variety of the tea plant, the climate and geography where it is grown, and the processing of the tea leaves once they have been picked.
A basic process that takes the tea leaves of the plant to result in oolong teas includes the following:
- Withering: Tea leaves are tossed to start the process of oxidization, after which they are dried in the sun. Tea leaves soften up and lose their moisture at this stage.
- Cooling: Transformation occurs and tea leaves begin to wilt, thus becoming flat.
- Rolling: The wilted leaves are bruised lightly, which aids in the release of the enzyme and essential oils, spurring the oxidization process and altering the appearance and flavour of the tea.
- Oxidizing: This is the ultimate process which gives the tea its unique appearance, shape and flavour. The type of tea that these leaves will become depends on how long they are allowed to oxidize. Usually, oolong teas can vary in oxidization levels between 8% and 80%.
- Roasting: Heat is used to halt the process of oxidization and aids in drying the leaves. The rich flavours and characteristics of the tea are delivered at this stage.
- Final rolling: The partially dried and roasted tea leaves are rolled one more time to define their unique shape.
- Drying: In order to eliminate total moisture from the tea leaves, they are left to dry so that they can be sorted.
Uses and effects of oolong tea
Take a look at some of the known effects and uses of the tea:
- Studies have estimated that consumption of oolong tea during the day increases alertness of the mind and helps in improving your mental performance.
- Women, who consume black tea, green tea or oolong tea on a regular basis, are less prone to ovarian cancer.
- Although there isn’t enough evidence to support the claim, some Chinese studies have found that drinking more oolong tea can possibly have a hand in controlling blood pressure.
- Some studies also claim that oolong teas are particularly beneficial to people with type 2 Diabetes but the research has not yielded solid results as of now.
- Since tea leaves naturally contain fluoride, drinking oolong tea can help prevent the incidence of cavities in the mouth.
Most studies and findings indicate that oolong tea can have a positive effect on the health of gut bacteria and helps in the development of stronger bones in the body. However, each benefit claimed by these studies indicates long term consumption of the tea while specifically pointing at the fact that the tea isn’t a sure solution to any given health problem.
Nutritional facts about oolong tea
Oolong tea has been studied in detail and found to be a rich storehouse of many essential vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Its composition also includes niacinamide and alkaloids, which help in detoxifying the body. The presence of caffeine and theobromine might be responsible for stimulating the nervous system of the body. Oolong tea is definitely a unique beverage alternative that you can try without running the risk of any side effects. However, you must always consult your medical practitioner before consuming the drink if you’re suffering from a serious medical condition or allergic to any particular substance.
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