What is Oolong Tea? What are the benefits of drinking Oolong tea? Why is oolong tea so influential?

What is Oolong Tea? What are the benefits of drinking Oolong tea? Why is oolong tea so influential?

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea. Oolong tea is made from the same raw materials as green and black tea. The difference lies in the processing, i.e., the oxidation process. Green tea is made from fresh tea leaves. Oxidation is the chemical reaction that occurs when the tea leaves are exposed to air, resulting in a change in the color and flavor of the tea leaves. Black tea is kneaded, and the degree of oxidation is the highest. Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea between black tea and green tea. When subdivided, it can be divided into lightly fermented, moderately fermented, and heavily fermented teas, with the degree of fermentation ranging from 10% to 70%. This difference in the production process makes oolong tea so “complex” in taste. It has floral and fruity aromas, as well as creamy and woody, with the freshness of green tea and the sweetness of black tea.
Classification of Oolong Tea
The history of oolong tea can be traced back to the Song Dynasty, when Fujian was the most important center for the production of tribute tea, with the widest variety of tea trees, tea-making techniques, and production volume in the country. After centuries of development, oolong tea was successfully created during the Yongzheng period of the Qing Dynasty, in 1725 AD, nearly 300 years ago.
Of course, the origin of oolong tea is not limited to Fujian. Still, it has expanded to include provinces such as Guangdong and Taiwan, and even south-western regions such as Sichuan, where a small amount and dozens of different types of tea trees are produced.
As a result, oolong tea can be roughly divided into four categories according to the raw material of the tree, the production process, and the place of origin, namely Northern Fujian Oolong, Southern Fujian Oolong, Guangdong Oolong, and Taiwan Oolong. Among them, the masterpiece of Northern Fujian Oolong is Wuyi Rock Tea, such as Da Hong Pao, Shui Xian, and Cinnamon, the masterpiece of Southern Fujian Oolong is Anxi Tieguanyin, the masterpiece of Guangdong Oolong Tea is Phoenix Monocotyl. The most famous Taiwanese Oolong Tea is Jelly Top Oolong and Pear Mountain Tea, etc.
The “Oriental Beauty” tea from Taiwan. Although they are all semi-fermented teas, the degree of fermentation varies from oolong tea to oolong tea. The degree of fermentation of Tieguanyin is lighter, ranging from 10% to 25%, while the degree of fermentation of Wuyi rock tea is medium, ranging from 25% to 50%.
The oolong teas we consume daily are mainly strip and pellet shaped, the latter two being more niche and not often seen in markets outside of their origins. In terms of appearance and form, oolong tea can also be divided into strips, granules, bundles, and masses. Phoenix Monocot and Da Hong Pao are both strip-shaped teas. Tieguanyin and Iced Top Oolong are granule-shaped masterpieces, Bajiao Ting Long Shu tea is a masterpiece of bundle-shaped tea, and Shui Xian cake tea is the only lump-shaped oolong tea.
Nutritional Composition of Oolong Tea
Like black and green teas, oolong tea is rich in many vitamins, minerals, and beneficial antioxidants. A cup of oolong tea contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and 38mg of caffeine. In comparison, a cup of green tea contains 29mg of caffeine.
The main antioxidant components of oolong tea are the phenolics such as theaflavins, theobromine, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These are also the primary sources of health benefits of oolong tea.
Oolong tea also contains catechistic acid, an amino acid that helps to soothe the mind and body and improve cognitive performance.
Oolong tea may prevent diabetes.
In general, tea has been shown to prevent diabetes due to its ability to reduce adrenaline resistance and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that regular tea consumption can improve blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. For example, according to an earlier study, oolong tea reduced plasma glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, there is not as much research on the effects of oolong tea on black and green teas.
Oolong tea may protect heart health.
Regular tea intake of antioxidants can help protect heart health. Many studies have shown that regular tea drinkers have better control of their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, effectively reducing the risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown that oolong tea has the same effect. A trial of 76,000 Japanese adult men showed that drinking more than 240ml of oolong tea daily reduced the likelihood of heart disease by 61%. Another study from China showed that drinking 1-2 cups of green or oolong tea a day significantly reduced the risk of stroke.
It is important to note that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may cause an increase in blood pressure and a faster heart rate in some people. However, this varies from person to person, and the adverse effects of tea, which contains 1/4 of the caffeine content of an equivalent amount of coffee, are not as pronounced as coffee.
Oolong tea may help with weight loss.
Drinking tea to help with weight loss has been well established. Studies have confirmed that the bioactive components in tea can help with weight loss or prevent obesity. While most people believe this is a function of antioxidant ingredients, recent studies have shown that tea can also enhance the activity of biological enzymes and intestinal flora, thus aiding weight loss.
As for oolong tea, in animal studies, researchers have found that oolong tea can increase fat oxidation, which in turn directly reduces body fat. However, the number of studies on humans is still tiny. The antioxidant content of oolong tea and the appetite suppressant effect of caffeine can help with weight loss, but it does not mean that drinking tea will result in weight loss. It depends more on lifestyle and eating habits.
Oolong tea may enhance brain function.
Recent studies have shown that drinking tea can improve brain and memory and prevent brain function decline due to aging. Some key ingredients include caffeine, which helps to release hyperalgesia, and dopamine, which can improve mood, concentration, and brain power. In addition, catechins acid effectively reduces anxiety and improves concentration, with the main effects occurring 1-2 hours after drinking the tea.
The impact of oolong tea
Fujian, Taiwan, and Guangdong provinces are China’s regions where the work tea culture is primarily intact. Since ancient times, tea has been inseparable from the highest officials to the lowest peddlers. This influence, along with the reform and opening up and the deepening of cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, has gradually spread from south to north and radiated throughout the country. Among the oolong teas, the first one to go out of Fujian, out of the south, and into the whole country was Tie Guanyin. Tie Guanyin was so popular back then that no one knew about it. Whether in the eastern provinces or the Gobi Mountains in the northwest, you could meet tea drinkers who drank Tieguanyin and talked to you about the tea culture.
The most popular of the oolong teas in recent years has been Wuyi rock tea. Although the sky-high rock tea hype has tarnished its brand reputation, Da Hong Pao, Cinnamon, and Shui Xian, both in terms of price and production, are rising. Guangdong’s Phoenix Monocot, too, is a favorite with tea lovers who can’t get enough of its impactful aroma and taste. Taiwanese oolong tea, of course, is equally popular, whether it is high mountain tea or “Oriental Beauty,” The consumer base is not tiny, and its influence in the mainland market is growing.
All in all, the influence of oolong tea is not only reflected in the variety of its varieties and the “complex and varied” taste and aroma but also in the promotion and change of the national concept of tea drinking and tea culture.