There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.
— Lin Yutang
Oolong is neither black tea nor green tea; Oolong falls into its own category of tea. Still, an Oolong can eventually acquire more of the characteristics of black tea or more of the characteristics of green tea, depending on the direction the tea master takes in processing the tea.
As with any tea, the taste of Oolong is partly determined by the degree of oxidation. Black tea is completely oxidized and green tea only moderately. Oolong is somewhere in between. Every tea master can have his own preference in this. This also applies to the shape of the tea leaf. Oolong tea is traditionally rolled, twisted, or curled into tight balls or thin strands. These artisan molding techniques depend on the traditions of the tea master who processes the loose tea leaves. Rolling is an important aspect of oolong processing that changes the appearance, color and aroma of the final tea. Depending on how and when the leaves are rolled during processing, the tea master can subtly alter the final flavor of the tea.
Chinese Oolongs are grown in high mountainous regions over rocky terrain and in cool weather. It is the unique geography and harsh environment that give these Oolongs the rich flavor they are famous for. Taiwan oolongs have traditionally been less oxidized (10% to 40%) and are therefore usually greener in color and lighter in flavor than Chinese oolongs. The styles of oolong produced across the country vary as much as the wine styles that come from France.
Curious about the rich diversity of Oolong tea?
The webshop of The Smallest House offers a nice selection of loose Oolong tea. This collection is of course also available in our tea shop in Amsterdam.
Origin of Oolong tea
Oolong, or "Black Dragon" in Chinese, is a tea which is in between green and black tea. There are several variants, each with a different degree of oxidation, from 8% to 85%. Some of the Oolong teas are therefore looking more like green tea and others on black tea.
Oolong teas originate from Fujian province in China. The tea was used more than 1000 years ago at ceremonial imperial affairs. From the 18th century, people also start producing in Taiwan Oolong.
The teas generally have a sweet fruity flavor.
Production of Oolong tea
Today, most Oolongs come from the southern Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong and Taiwan.
After picking, the tea leaves are wilted and then rolled or bruised. The released juices and enzymes can then be oxidized by means of air.
Depending on the desired degree of oxidation, the tea leaves are shorter or longer exposed to the air. If the desired degree of oxidation once reached, the leaves are heated briefly to stop the oxidation process.
Brewing tips for Oolong tea
On average, the water temperature has to be between 80ºC - 90ºC before it is poured over the Oolong. For some Oolong tea the recommended water temperature is even lower.
The average brewing time for Oolong tea is between 2 and 4 minutes.
On the information sheet of the tea you can find the desired water temperature and brewing time.
Oolong is very suitable to brew multiple times. You can use the tea leaves up to 3 to 5 times for brewing tea.