Imagine a world with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, but no opportunity to experience any flavor in between. That's what a life of tea drinking without trying oolong is like; only tasting the extremes and missing out on the incredible flavor potential found in between!
As neither a black or green tea, oolong tea is the enormous category that falls between them. Depending on processing techniques and the desires of the tea master, oolong can be similar in flavor to either black or green or even perfectly in the middle between the two.
Despite what you might think, black tea and green tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensistea. It is the different ways they are processed that changes their flavor and coloring.
During processing, black tea is allowed to fully oxidize to reach a dark hue and rich flavor, while green teas are only oxidized a small amount to retain their natural coloring.
In contrast, oolong tea is oxidized anywhere from 8% to 80%, which changes the taste from sweet and fruity to thick and malty, and everything in between.
Depending on where the tea leaves are grown and how they are processed, oolong can taste and look completely different. Traditionally, oolong leaves are rolled or twisted into thin strands that release the flavors in different ways, depending on how long it is seeped.
For four centuries, oolong has been prized by the Chinese that produce it. Legend has it that the first cup of oolong was brewed by a farmer named Wu Liang after he became distracted in his tea fields and allowed his fresh picked leaves to partially oxidize before making tea with them.
The amount of variation possible in making oolong has turned it into an Asian art form. Both China and Taiwan revere this blend and treat their variations with levels of pride similar to wine culture in France.
When you drink oolong, your body enjoys the double benefits of both black and green tea, making it one of the most beneficial brews you can drink. Oolong tea is naturally full of antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals for total body health.