Posted by Jeremy @ Arbor Teas on 6th Dec 2016
There’s a lot of romance to oolong teas, the diverse and complex family of partially-oxidized teas. Oolongs have a wide range of oxidation levels, spanning the wide gap between green tea (zero oxidation) and black teas (full oxidation). This is a big reason for the wide spectrum of flavors and aromas these teas possess, making them a cornerstone of many a tea geek's collection. These are the kind of teas you want to stop time for, to sit, smell and consider.
If you’ve yet to dive into the world of oolong teas, consider this your invitation to explore.
Origins of Oolong Tea
While China is the birthplace of oolong teas (dating back to China's Ming Dynasty like all classic tea varieties), they are now produced in a wide variety of countries, including Taiwan, Vietnam, India, and more. That said, China and Taiwan are the most classic origins of oolong tea, employing cultivars of Camellia sinensis most suited to making these wonderfully complex teas.
Oxidation and Oolong Varieties
As noted above, oxidation is one of the major elements defining the oolong tea category. Oolong teas can range from very minimally-oxidized teas (like our Bao Zhong), to lightly-oxidized (like our Dong Ding), to medium oxidized (like our Ti Kuan Yin), to more fully-oxidized (like our Oriental Beauty). With less oxidation, flavor profiles start from lightly vegetal and floral, shifting to increasingly rich and honeyed notes with more oxidation.
Oolong Manufacturing Techniques
Oolong teas are among the most complex teas to create, involving a variety of intricate processes to achieve the desired outcome. Beyond the oxidation level of the resulting tea, the degree of withering, rolling/shaping, firing, and post-production baking all contribute to the final leaf style (open leaf vs. balled) and flavor/aroma characteristics (sweet, roasted, etc.).
The Possible Health Benefits of Oolong Teas
Oolong teas haven’t been studied quite as much as green, white, or black teas have, but there are a few areas of interest that researchers are looking into. For example, many in China have long believed in the ability of oolong teas to increase metabolism and oxidize fat. These two studies (here and here!) indicate that there is scientific evidence to back this up. Other studies suggest that oolong tea may be effective at minimizing some allergic reactions, particularly skin reactions.
Of course, GABA oolong is specifically designed to have an abundance of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and helps the body to relax in times of stress.
Ready to Explore?
Most high-quality oolongs are gift-worthy teas that give back again and again through several infusions. If you’re a tea lover but an oolong novice, consider sampling some of our most popular oolongs. If you have some tea enthusiast friends, you might even want to get together and do a tasting.
It’s time to take tea beyond the teapot. Our beloved beverage we know and love to sip is extremely versatile in the kitchen - and can be wonderfully surprising to experiment with. Our friend, blogger and home chef extraordinaire, Olivia May tells us she frequently uses tea in recipes in place of water. If you’re [...]
Fall means a trip to the pumpkin patch (or apple orchard, depending on where you live!) and lots of warm steaming mugs, bowls of soup, and food that stays with you. For us, it means spicy teas, chai lattes, and incorporating fall flavors into everything we eat. If you want to get that fall feeling, these recipes are for you! For [...]
This summer, our warehouse manager Sarah and I traveled to China for a course at the ITA Tea Sommelier Certification School in Pu Erh. Pu Erh, of course, is home to the famed fermented tea of the same name, which is so venerated in some circles in China it is treated as an investment and [...]
By day, Cynthia Chen is a junior lawyer at a New York City law firm. You wouldn’t think that leaves a lot of time for cooking, and you would be right, but this doesn’t stop Cynthia from following her passions into the kitchen, where she cooks up creative recipes for her blog, Two Red Bowls. For Cynthia, food is [...]
Join the conversation! We’ve put together a chapter-by-chapter list of discussion questions for The Wintree Waltz, to share with friends, book clubs, or for your own introspection. This page will be updated every Thursday (June 2 - August 4) with questions related to that week’s chapter. Please note: they *will* contain spoilers, so if you’re not caught [...]
Recently, Arbor Teas’ Aubrey and Jeremy Lopatin sat down to talk about the Summer Reading Series with Lauren Doyle Owens, author of their first Summer Reading Series selection, The Wintree Waltz. The following are excerpts – without spoilers! – from that conversation: Lauren: I’m curious about the idea behind the Summer Reading Series, how it came together for you, the [...]
Think meringues are no-go for a vegan diet? Think again! This recipe for Vegan Matcha Meringues is proof to the contrary. Find out how to make these little delights below: Yield: 90 small meringues 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2½ teaspoons cooking grade matcha, sifted Place a strainer over a medium bowl [...]
We first discovered Maria Siriano when we scoured the Internet for interesting recipes for our Cooking with Tea Holiday Menus ahead of Thanksgiving last year. We’ve returned to her blog, Sift and Wisk, a lot since, looking for inspiration and something yummy to eat. Luckily, Sift & Wisk serves up both in spades. This could be because Siriano spends a [...]
Makes 2 to 4 servings The floral honeyed tones of chamomile beautifully complement the sweetness of corn. This chowder owes its body to being half puréed, rather than to cream or butter, making it naturally vegan. I use frozen corn here, but if you’re lucky enough to find fresh organic corn, by all means use it. 1 tablespoon safflower, grapeseed, or other neutral [...]