GTR: Identifying Teas Part 4: Oolong Tea
Moving Right Oolong...
Hello, and welcome back to the fourth chapter of the Identifying Teas journey! Tea is my passion, and I'm making it my goal to share my passion with the world!
We've talked about White tea, Yellow tea and Green tea in extensive detail. Now, it's time to talk about Oolong tea. Don't worry, this won't take oolong time. (Pardon my bad puns, I'm in a mood.)
Oolong tea is a staple in many households, and it is commonly what is served when you eat at a Japanese or Chinese restaurant. It also makes for an amazingly healthy cup of love.
Origin of Oolong Tea
Oolong tea can trace its origins back to China and Taiwan, and is still one of the more popular types of tea in both countries.
There are a few different stories about how it came to be, although we can be sure of none of these legends.
The biggest difference between Taiwanese and Chinese oolong is that Taiwan's most famous oolongs are less oxidized than Chinese oolong.
The most famous of Chinese oolongs (or "wulong" as it is commonly called) are grown in high mountainous regions, over rocky terrain and in cooler weather. One of the more famous of these teas is the Monkey Picked oolong. Legend has it that monks trained monkeys to climb to the tops of the tea trees, and pick the youngest of buds.
Meanwhile, in Taiwan, there are different variations of oolong tea all throughout the country, each tea being grown in different climates and produced in slightly different ways. Taiwanese oolong tends to have greener leaves, and is lighter in flavor, as compared to Chinese oolong, which produces richer flavors due to the harsher climates.
How It's Processed...
To make an oolong tea, it is a much longer process than the white or green teas we talked about previously, while not nearly as complicated as making yellow tea.
While each process for making oolong tea is different, depending on where you go, the whole process looks something like this:
Plucked ----> Withered ----> Bruised ----> Shade Dried ----> Pan fried ----> Rolled and dried.
Young tea buds are plucked and laid out to dry in the sun for an hour or more, during the withering process. After which, the leaves are shaken, or rolled/tumbled in a machine (depending on where you go) to bruise the leaves and encourage oxidization.
The leaves are allowed to dry some in a shaded room, before they are pan fried to stop oxidization. The process of rolling and frying the tea leaves can happen multiple times, bringing out all kinds of complex flavors in the tea. Finally, the tea leaves are dried completely and/or rolled.
Again, this process varies depending on where you look. Sometimes, the tea is even allowed to ferment slightly, which creates an amazing, robust flavor.
Basically, oolong is more oxidized than white, yellow and green tea, but it is not fully oxidized, like a black tea.
Brewing an Oolong Tea...
So, when you brew an oolong tea, the color of the tea will be a darker brown, or yellow, as compared to white or green teas.
These teas should be brewed at around 195° Fahrenheit, but some may not be as delicate as others. It is best to be mindful of the brewing instructions of any new tea you purchase. If all else fails, and you want to avoid burning your beverage, then stick to brewing at 195° Fahrenheit.
One of my favorite things about oolong tea is that it helps with digestion. It is literally your best friend when you are eating a big meal. This is why it is most commonly used in Chinese restaurants. It is also rich in antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, and even folic acid.
It helps you manage your weight, due to a polyphenolic compound which helps you control your metabolism. It activates specific enzymes in your body, which enhances the functions of fat cells in your body. Drinking a cup of oolong, daily, can help you lose weight.
It is higher in caffeine than most white or green teas, but the caffeine goes into your body in a different way, so you don't get the caffeine jitters. It is also known to help with your stress levels, and is said to help with your mental health.
Oolong tea is wonderful. Monkey Picked oolong is in my top ten teas (a list I most certainly will get to eventually), as it has such a clear and beautiful flavor to it.
Oolong tea is also handy in various different recipes, whether you are making a mixed drink, a dessert or an actual meal.
You can blend it with a little milk to have a creamy oolong, or you can just enjoy it by itself, with nothing in it. However you enjoy your oolong, it is definitely a staple you should have in your tea cabinet.
That's it for part 4! Stick around for a fun review on tea parties, coming soon to a computer near you!
When we come back for chapter five, we will be discussing Pu-Erh tea, and all the fun things you can do with it!
Until then, there is a great big world of tea out there, and together we can explore every last inch of it!
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