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Oolong tea: what is it, what does oolong taste like, and how to make it

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea balls
Oolong tea balls

The champagne of teas: If you want some genuinely unique tea, then oolong tea is a must-try. Oolong tea is a type of camellia sinensis tea – it comes from the same plant that produces green, black, and white tea. 

However, it goes through a different processing method, so the color, flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel all come out slightly different from the teas mentioned above. This difference in taste and smell occurs because oolong tea leaves are allowed to oxidize longer than other teas. This means the leaves can soak up oxygen which triggers a chemical reaction to produce nuanced flavors and aromas.

The process of creating oolong tea is no easy feat, involving a delicate balance of oxidation, rolling, and drying. After being plucked from the tea plant, the leaves are spread out in the sun to wither for several hours.

Then, they are shaken and rolled, breaking down the cell walls and exposing the enzymes to oxygen. This crucial step sets oolong tea apart from other types of tea, as the degree of oxidation can be carefully controlled to achieve a specific flavor profile. Finally, the leaves are fully oxidized and then fired to stop the oxidation process before being sorted and packaged.

Here is an overview of the Oolong tea making process:

What does oolong taste like, and how much caffeine does it have?

Oolong tea is processed across the tea world. Some of the significant producers of exquisite oolong are, of course, China, but also Taiwan, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. As a result, the title of “champagne of teas” is often bestowed upon oolong, with Taiwan’s Alishan oolong getting this distinction the most. But what gives Oolong, in general, this title? First, oolong has an excellent flavor profile as diverse as delectable; Oolong can be fruity, floral, malty, chocolatey, and breadlike, and can even display flavors akin to green and black tea and, in some cases, even coffee!

Regarding caffeine, how does oolong compare to the other camellia sinensis leaves? Oolong falls in the median range of caffeine, at 37- 55 mg per eight ounces of tea. This is less than black tea and a little more than green. This makes oolong a median-level caffeinated beverage.

How do you make oolong tea? How long do you brew it, and how much tea per cup?

Making oolong tea is fun and straightforward and none too different from brewing other varieties of camellia sinensis tea. However, loose leaf oolong may come in its trademark “ball” or “pellet” forms. The balls or pellets are loose leaves that have been twisted and rolled, which helps to enhance oxidization and the development of flavor and aroma. They unfurl to release their characteristics in your brew as they are brewed. 

Using balls or pellets, use 1 teaspoon for every 6 ounces of water and 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea for every 6 ounces. The ideal temperature to brew is 190 degrees Fahrenheit. As for steeping, 5 to 8 minutes is a great time to steep your oolong, which allows your pellets or loose leaves to unfurl and imbue the tea more richly.

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Culturalist Press Staff

The Culturalist Press’ mission is to be a place for useful, informed, and relevant writing. Our goal is to be clear, concise, and refreshingly straightforward in our coverage of topics. We champion organizations focused on fact-based journalism as we ourselves are while trying to stay focused on covering topics that matter to everyone.Staff pieces: