It seems to be everywhere these days – on TV, in magazines, all over the Internet. Celebrities claim it as a weight-loss wonder. At Choice Organic Teas, it’s even surpassed traditional favorites like Earl Grey and English Breakfast to become our best seller. However, I’m regularly asked, “what is oolong tea?”
The name “oolong” is Chinese and translates to “black dragon.” No one’s quite sure how that name became attached to the tea. Some say that the style originated in Wuyi Mountain, while others say that it’s named after Wu Liang who accidentally discovered oolong tea, when he was distracted from his preparation of the day’s tea crop and let the leaves oxidize.
The oxidation process is one characteristic used to distinguish between types of tea. When tea leaves are cut or bruised, it sets off a complex and delicate chemical reaction between the exposed enzymes contained within the tea leaf and the naturally occurring oxygen in the air. The extent to which the leaves are allowed to oxidize determines the color and flavor of the tea leaves before they are finally heated to halt the oxidation process. (You may have heard this process called fermentation, but that’s not entirely accurate because no microbes are involved.) Oolong teas oxidize for longer than green tea, but not as long as black tea. They’re beautifully balanced for that reason. They don’t have the grassy and occasional bitterness associated with some green teas, nor do they have the malty or incidental harshness of some black teas.
We’ve got two fantastic oolong teas at Choice Organic Teas, which are actually the only organic oolongs available in a tea bag. Our Original Oolong is a mild, earthy variety, perfect for getting the hang of this unique style of tea. If you’re looking for something very unique, we have a fantastic Magnolia Oolong in our Gourmet line of teas. It’s scented with magnolia blossoms, which are laid upon the tea to impart their essence, and then removed, for a lingering hint of flavor and aroma. Scenting teas is a time-honored tradition, and the subtle sweetness of magnolia shouldn’t be missed. It’s a beautifully elegant tea for any occasion.
Drinking oolong tea isn’t going to make you immediately drop twenty pounds, but some studies do show that the high polyphenol content in oolong tea does promote fat burning by raising your metabolic rate and blocking absorption of fats and cholesterol. It’s no magic bullet but drinking tea instead of sugary soft drinks is good idea for your health and waistline.
So brew up a cup today, and find out just what it is that makes this dragon so special.