The World of Oolong Tea and Our Obsession

Oolong, pronounced “woo-long” and sometimes spelled “wu-long,” means “black dragon” in Mandarin. This term describes a wide variety of teas that fall all along the black-to-green spectrum in terms of oxidation. Perhaps the sexiest and most mysterious of teas, all oolong creation follows some general guidelines.

Right when they reach maturity, the tea leaves are hand-picked and set in short mounds, usually in the sunlight. They are shaken as they oxidize and wither. The goal (and key to this process) is to bruise the edges of the leaves without breaking them. The leaves soon give off a fruity aroma, indicating that they are ready for the next step in the process. Next, the leaves are hand-rolled into either a long, curly shape or tiny nuggets. Generally, Chinese Oolongs are long and curly, and Taiwanese Oolongs are pellets—but not always. To finish the process, the leaves are fired over a charcoal fire, often in a large wok.

Oxidation of oolongs can vary anywhere between 15%, producing an extremely green-like oolong with major floral and fruit characteristics; to around 80%, producing a much roastier, grape-like, earthy flavor.

Due to its rich, complex flavor profile, oolong makes a fantastic base for blends, like the Ginger Peach Oolong. However, it also makes a super stand-alone (or "self-drinking") tea, like the Wuyi Oolong.

Some of the qualities used to describe oolongs? chestnuts, cherries, peaches, oak, rum, wildflowers, smoked meat, icing, springtime, snow, wild rice, and more.

Taiwan is known for its stupendous oolongs which are only now making their way into the United States’ markets. Zhi now carries some very rare certified organic Taiwanese oolongs.

Recent studies strongly indicate that oolong tea’s particular makeup of polyphenol compounds aid in weight loss. Oolong tea’s effects on blocking the absorption of fats and carbohydrates is thought to play a key role in its weight reducing benefits.

All in all, oolong tea is not only an extremely healthy lifestyle choice (did we mention antioxidants?), it is also one of the most incredible-tasting, versatile, and evocative teas in the world. Is it any wonder that we’re obsessed?

If you are interested in oolongs, please browse through our selection and ask our Tea Master any questions you may have.!