Do you know much about loose leaf oolong tea? Since it’s a broadly-defined category, there’s an extremely wide variety of teas. On one hand, some are light and floral. By contrast, some are dark and woodsy. And some are in between! No matter your tea preference, you’ll fall in love with our loose leaf oolong tea blends. Our oolongs are intended to entice, intrigue, and captivate.
Please scroll down and read more about our loose leaf oolong tea adventures. As always, our goal is to create the most enjoyable and exciting loose leaf tea blends for our CommuniTea Center family.
(Or, if you’re ready to purchase loose leaf oolong tea, head directly to our web store!)
What is Oolong Tea?
Like black tea or green tea, oolong (sometimes spelled “wulong”) tea comes from Camellia sinensis, the same plant as all true teas. What differentiates the various types of tea is the processing, most notably the oxidation level.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when the enzymes in the leaf contact oxygen in the air. (It’s the same process when you slice an apple and the pieces turn brown over time.) When tea oxidizes, the green leaves turn a rich coppery brown. By definition, oolong teas are partially oxidized. As a result, oolongs are rather varied, encompassing everything between black teas (fully oxidized) and green teas (unoxidized).
Generally speaking, oolongs between 10-30% oxidized have a delicate, floral aroma. As a result, they are closer to green teas. On the other hand, oolongs up to 70% oxidized often have woody and fruity/sweet notes. Consequently, their taste profiles are more similar to black teas.
As you can see, the terminology for talking about tea and wine is very similar!
Why Loose Leaf Oolong Tea?
Although they all come from the same “stuff,” loose leaf oolong tea is considered superior to traditional tea bags. Why? Well, the tiny pieces in tea bags are usually low quality dust and fannings broken off from larger tea leaves. The natural essential oils that give the tea its yummy flavor and aroma evaporate really quickly from the tiny particles. The result is a rather blah brew.
On the contrary, properly infusing loose leaf oolong tea allows the hot water to surround every inch of the tea,
producing a fresh, full flavor. Yum!
What are the Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Oolong Tea?
Since oolong is a true tea, it contains some level of antioxidants called flavonoids (like EGCG), which may help neutralize free radicals. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.
In China, people think that oolong tea helps control body weight, and there are some recent studies to support this. Based on data from multiple experiments, subjects who drank oolong tea generally burned more calories (and burned more fat) than participants who consumed a different beverage (which, depending on the study, included green tea, caffeinated water, or plain water). (See, for example, a 2001 study by W. Rumpler et al. Additional info available here. Also, see a 2003 Japanese study by T. Komatsu et al. Additional info available here.)
As a result of their findings, the scientists in the Japanese study suggest that the reason oolong tea increases calories burned (or EE, for “energy expenditure”) is due to the polymerized polyphenols, not due to caffeine alone. Since oolong tea has the highest levels of polymerized polyphenols of all the tea types, it should provide the largest increase in calories burned.
So… if you are looking for a tea to aid you in your weight loss journey, then there are a few studies pointing to oolong (with no milk or sugar) as your best bet, because of the combination of caffeine and type of polyphenols!
Random Fun Fact:
Although we are used to Western-style brewing, another method is to steep it gong fu-style (sometimes spelled “kung fu”), which is one of the best ways to taste all the subtle layers of oolong teas. It’s a method of multiple, short infusions in a small teapot or gaiwan, with a relatively high leaf to water ratio. Consequently, the gong fu cha ceremony will allow you to re-steep the same tea leaves multiple times, discovering different nuances and fragrances at each stage.
General Steeping Tips for Loose Leaf Oolong Tea (Western Style)
- Serving size: Use 1 teaspoon to 1 heaping teaspoon tea leaves per 8 oz water
- Water temperature: 180° – 205° F.
- Steep Time: 3 to 5 minutes. Then be sure to remove the tea leaves to avoid bitterness.
To take the guesswork out, each package of CommuniTea Center tea has recommendations for preparing one serving of that tea. For further reading and more steeping tips, check out All About Teas!
If you are interested in serving, retailing, or private-labeling loose leaf oolong tea (or any other tea type/s), please visit our Wholesale Inquiry page.
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