Oolong tea is grown from the Camellia sinensis plant, as is green, black and white tea. Oolong falls on the spectrum between green and black tea in terms of caffeine content and antioxidant qualities. The flavor of Oolong, however, can be quite unique.
What Is Oolong Tea?
While black tea is allowed to fully oxidize and green tea undergoes little or no oxidation, Oolong tea is partially oxidized.
Depending on the producer, Oolong oxidation rates can run from 8 to 80 percent.
In Oolong production, tea leaves are bruised, which alters the oxidation rate of each leaf and increases the flavor complexity.
Per experts at Teatulia, other factors in the production of Oolong tea leaves include how the leaves are shaped as they dry and are roasted. This process of shaping the leaves is specific to each tea producer and can heavily impact flavor.
If you find an Oolong you enjoy, or perhaps don’t care for, be aware that the flavors of Oolong tea are specific to their region of growth and the drying and roasting process.
Oolong Tea Benefits
All teas grown from tea plants contain antioxidants. The process of oxidation strips antioxidants from the leaf. Thus, green and white teas have a higher antioxidant content than Oolong, and Oolong has more antioxidants than black teas.
However, white tea can be costly, and green tea has an acidity that some drinkers may not appreciate.
While green tea contains more antioxidants than Oolong, the difference is minimal. If green tea has been your routine and you’d like a change, consider adding Oolong to your daily tea intake.
Oolong Tea For Weight Loss
The antioxidant that can aid in weight loss is called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.
Its function is to increase thermogenesis, or raise your metabolism as you eat. Other antioxidants called flavonoids help your body resist starches that can be stored as fat.
Per Dr. Al Sears, Oolong tea, as a combination of black and green teas, is doubly helpful in aiding weight loss. Oolong tea provides EGCG in the green leaves to increase your body’s fat burning capabilities.
It also provides flavonoids in the black leaves to help your body block starches. If you’re wondering how much Oolong tea to drink for weight loss, Dr. Sears recommends one cup with breakfast and a second with lunch.
Does Oolong Tea Have Caffeine?
All teas harvested from the tea plant contain caffeine. As Oolong leaves are partially oxidized, Oolong tea has more caffeine than green tea but less than black.
White tea contains the least, and black the most caffeine.
If caffeine is a concern, it is important to note that steeping time, water temperature and serving size will heavily impact the amount of caffeine that remains in your cup when you remove the leaves.
For example, eight ounces of water, 1 teaspoon of Oolong leaves and three minutes of steeping can result in 40 milligrams of caffeine.
If, however, you double the water content, you get sixteen ounces of tea but still only 40 milligrams of caffeine.
Consider brewing a larger cup than directed and reduce the amount of caffeine per ounce if trying to reduce caffeine intake.
What is Oolong Tea Good For?
Oolong tea provides the drinker with a hearty dose of antioxidants. To truly understand how helpful antioxidants are, we need to understand what oxidation does to the body.
Molecular oxidation in the body produces waste known as free radicals. While the simple process of living and thus aging can produce free radicals, we may generate more of them based on toxin exposure from food, air and water.
Sun damage can also create free radicals. Excessive build-up of free radicals will damage our cellular structure.
Free radical buildup in the tissues contributes to many illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Per Dr. Edward Group of the Global Healing Center, increasing our antioxidant intake by improving our diets to include foods and drinks rich in antibiotics may aid in cleaning free radicals from the tissues.
A diet rich an antioxidants may also slow the tissue damage associated with aging.
Oolong Tea Side Effects
Moderation in all things is critically important. Oolong tea provides many healthful benefits, but it does contain caffeine.
Per experts at WebMD.com the caffeine in Oolong can be dangerous for pregnant women and nursing mothers, and may cause difficulties for diabetics in controlling their blood sugar.
No more than two cups of Oolong tea are recommended on a daily basis. For those who suffer from osteoporosis, Oolong may flush calcium from the body.
For anyone suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, contact a physician about caffeine intake and calcium supplements.
How To Brew Oolong Tea
Oolong should not be made with boiling hot water. The temperature should be between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit / 82 to 93 degrees Celsius.
If you don’t have an electric tea pot, simply bring the water to a boil and let it cool for two minutes.
- Oolong leaves are either rolled or twisted. Measure out 1 teaspoon of rolled leaves and 2 teaspoons for twisted.
- Place the leaves loose in the cup so they can expand, or in a large infuser. Pour the hot water over the leaves, and cover the teapot or cup.
- Steep for one to five minutes. Be aware that leaf style tea infuses faster than rolled tea.
- Taste test every thirty seconds starting at one minute until the flavor is right for you.
Oolong leaves can be used for up to five steepings, depending on the size of your teapot. See our best cast iron teapot reviews for traditional brewing methods from Japan.
Each brand of Oolong tea provides the drinker with a unique flavor. If you find that green, white or black tea are not to your taste but would like to increase your antioxidant intake, consider Oolong.
If you find a brand you enjoy, stick with it. If not, try another!