WHAT IS OOLONG TEA?
Oolong tea is a variety of tea which is made from the Camelia Sinesis plant. Interestingly, both the black and green teas are also made from the same plant. However, the difference lies in the processing of the different varieties of tea. The word oolong has been derived from a Chinese name. It means ‘black dragon tea’. The Chinese people also call this variety of tea ‘quincha’ which means ‘dark green teas’. Oolong tea is a very popular variety of traditional Chinese tea. It is mainly grown in Taiwan and China. This variety of tea has now become immensely popular worldwide.
HOW IS IT MADE?
As far as fermentation goes, Oolong tea is mid way between the black and green tea varieties. It is semi fermented, black tea undergoes full fermentation and green tea is completely unfermented. The production of Oolong tea involves a novel process where the tea plant is withered under strong sunlight. The leaves then undergo oxidation after which they are curled and twisted. The leaves can undergo oxidation from 8% to 85%. The extent to which the leaves will be oxidised depends upon the variety of oolong tea to be produced and also the mode of production. Exclusive tea plant cultivars are often used to make the fine quality tea.
The entire process of making oolong tea leaves follow a set of intricate steps. All the steps are carried out with extreme care to ensure that the leaves acquire just the right amount of bruising and browning. The correct timing and temperature for attaining the appropriate quality of tea leaves is very essential. One process which the oolong tea leaves exclusively undergo is the baking or roasting process. This gives the oolong tea its unique taste and flavour.
THE DIFFERENT FLAVOURS OF OOLONG TEA
The different varieties of oolong tea have a wide range of flavours. There are the sweet and fruity flavoured ones with a honey aroma. The ones with a roasted aroma are woody and thick. Another variety has a bouquet aroma and looks green. It has a refreshing flavour. The flavour of the tea depends on the manner in which it is cultivated and also the production style. Oolong tea varieties like the Da Hong Pao and others which are grown in the Wuyi Mountains are the most popular Chinese tea varieties. The leaves are formed following two main styles. A few of the leaves are rolled and they look long and curly. The other leaves look like small beads and are wrap curled.
OOLONG TEA CAFFEINE CONTENT
All varieties of tea, be it the black, green or oolong are made from the same plant and contain caffeine. Research has proven that caffeine acts as a natural defence mechanism for this plants which keeps the insects and herbivores away from it. These insects and herbivores do not like the bitter taste and stimulation and hence stay away from the plant. Many factors play an important role when it is to be decided that how much caffeine is present in the plucked leaves. It depends on the age of the plants and the leaves, the length of the season when it is grown, the conditions in the field, the nutrients in the soil and also the presence of pests. Further the caffeine content undergoes a change when the leaves go for production.
The manner in which tea is prepared also influences the amount of caffeine present in the cup. Like all other tea leaves, oolong tea also contains caffeine. It is semi fermented. Tea leaf fermentation slightly reduces it content. The main factors which decide the caffeine content of oolong leaves are the leaf age, the type of leaf and the method of preparation.
BLACK TEA VS OOLONG TEA
Oolong tea has much lower caffeine content when compared to coffee or the black one. Black tea is made from plants of Indian origin which have higher caffeine content. The Chinese plants, from which oolong tea is made, have lower caffeine content.
OOLONG TEA VS GREEN TEA
The base rule say that young tea leaves have a higher caffeine content. Green tea is made from the youngest tea but is unfermented and have less caffeine when compared to oolong tea. On the other hand, Oolong tea are also made from young tea leaves but is fermented. So, their caffeine content is higher than green tea. Hence it can be said that it has lower caffeine content than black teas and higher than the green one. But this is not always true because the caffeine content in a cup of oolong tea will also depend on its brewing or steeping and the temperature at which it is done.
A cup can approximately contain up to 60 milligrams of caffeine. So, the quantity can however vary according to the oolong tea and green tea variety. The first brewing of the tea has up to three times more caffeine than the second brewing. The second brewing again has three times more caffeine than the third brewing. Oolong tea can be a very good option if one prefers tea with low caffeine content. A good way of further reducing it content, is to not drink the tea in the first brewing. Throwing the first infusion will also remove all residues of pesticides and dusts which remain in the tea leaves. Lesser leaves can also be used and the brewing time can be shortened to reduce the caffeine content. Oolong tea bags are said to have more caffeine content. Hence using tea bags can also be avoided.
The mild caffeine content in this tea also has a number of health benefits. It improves alertness and metabolism. It helps in losing weight and it is also good for the skin. It’s said that drinking this tea it helps in treating diabetes, obesity, high levels of cholesterol and skin allergies. It also strengthens immunity.
Oolong tea, which is low in caffeine and has a host of health benefits, is surely a good option for all tea lovers.