Oolong tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a panacea that can treat everything from inflammation to metabolism. In recent years, these health claims have been supported by scientific research concerning oolong tea’s many beneficial properties.
What is oolong tea?
Like other types of tea, including black tea, green tea, and white tea, oolong tea is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis tea plant, which is native to southwest China and northeast India. Oolong teas are partially oxidized, and fall somewhere in between black and green teas in terms of their oxidation level. These unique teas are often produced from specialized cultivars that have been developed over the course of decades. Oolong teas are often formed into tightly rolled balls that gradually unfurl as the tea steeps, making them suitable for multiple infusions. These teas tend to have a lighter body than black teas, but are a bit heartier than green teas, with floral and vegetal notes.
Benefits of oolong tea
Oolong tea is full of beneficial properties! These include:
1. Can help keep your heart healthy
Drinking oolong tea can help ensure that you have a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Studies have shown that consuming oolong tea can have a beneficial effect on people suffering from coronary artery disease. Drinking tea was also shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you’re looking to improve heart health, regularly consuming a cup of tea is an easy, tasty way to do so!
2. May speed up metabolism
Oolong tea has a reputation for boosting your metabolism. While tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for this purpose, recent studies also back up claims about oolong tea’s metabolic benefits. Oolong tea can help to increase metabolism and energy expenditure. Oolong tea has also been shown to help tea drinkers maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity.
3. Good for your skin
Whether you’re looking to clear up breakouts or cultivate a healthy glow, drinking oolong tea can be good for your skin! Studies show that oolong tea has anti-allergic properties, and can help to clear up skin problems like eczema. Drinking tea can also help you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
4. Boosts brainpower
Oolong tea contains both caffeine and l-theanine, a potent combination that can improve cognitive function and alertness, without any of the jitters or upset-stomach feeling that come with drinking too much coffee. Oolong tea contains about a quarter of the caffeine of coffee, making it a mildly stimulating beverage that can increase energy and focus. L-theanine is a unique compound found primarily in tea that reduces stress and produces a state of mental calm and clarity. Together, caffeine and l-theanine can help to increase attention and give your brainpower a boost!
5. Can help ward off degenerative diseases
Oolong tea has also been shown to contribute to the prevention of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This is in part thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols.
6. Good for your microbiome
The gut microbiome has come under renewed study in recent years due to increased recognition of its function in promoting overall health and wellbeing. The microbiome consists of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and can help to defend against pathogens and boost the immune system. Oolong tea has been shown to favorably regulate the gut microbiome by increasing the levels of beneficial microorganisms.
7. May help reduce risk for cancer
Oolong tea is extremely high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help to prevent certain types of cancer. A recent study indicated that partially oxidized Fine Ti Kuan Yin Oolong tea has been linked to inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells. Consuming tea regularly has also been shown to lower the risk of ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, and skin cancer. While studies concerning oolong tea’s cancer-fighting properties are still ongoing, it’s a safe bet that a cup of oolong tea can help to reduce your risk for a variety of cancers.
8. Good for your bones
Drinking oolong tea can also help to improve bone health. Studies have shown that oolong tea can protect against osteoporosis, a degenerative skeletal disorder that increases the risk of bone fractures and breaks. Oolong tea can also help to increase bone mass and bone strength, reducing the likelihood of injury.
9. Reduces inflammation
Oolong tea has been shown to help reduce inflammation. Inflammation can be a result of temporary stressors, or can develop into chronic inflammation over a prolonged period of time. Since inflammation can often result in an increase in pain and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Oolong tea contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe temporary pains as well as to protect against illness caused by chronic inflammation.
10. Good for your teeth
Oolong contains naturally occurring fluoride, which can help to protect your teeth against damage and prevent cavities. Studies have shown that oolong tea may also be able to reduce dental plaque. If you’re looking to improve your oral health and boast a happy, healthy smile, regularly drinking oolong tea is a good idea!
How to prepare oolong tea
In order to prepare oolong tea, you should use about one teaspoon of tea leaves per six ounces of water. Oolong tea leaves expand when they are steeped, so you should be sure to give them plenty of room to spread out and use an infuser with extra room at the top. Heat cool, filtered water to approximately 195 degrees. You want the water to be not quite boiling, though a few bubbles are okay. Infuse the tea leaves for 2-3 minutes, then enjoy! Oolong teas can be infused multiple times, allowing you to enjoy different nuances of flavor with each successive cup.
Our oolong teas
We carry an extensive selection of both classic and flavored oolong teas. Whether you’re looking to explore oolongs because of their unique taste or outstanding health benefits, we’re sure to carry something that will suit your fancy!
Amber Autumn Oolong is an “autumn flush” oolong sourced from Nepal. This double roasted oolong is more fully oxidized than other oolong teas, and features a medium body and a mellow natural sweetness.
One of the most famous Chinese oolongs, Fine Ti Kuan Yin has a distinctive and highly-prized orchid-like flavor. The tightly rolled olive green leaves brew up into a burnt gold liquor with a floral character and a hint of sweetness.
Jade Song Oolong features large, hand-rolled leaves and has a delicate, mellow flavor with a smooth finish. Less oxidized than some other types of oolong, this fragrant tea has a lighter and more subtle flavor as a result, with floral and vegetal notes. Jade Song is sourced from Taiwan, and is an excellent example of a superior quality Taiwanese oolong.
This rare Japanese oolong is light and floral, with a buttery mouthfeel and hints of jasmine and apricot. Our Japanese Oolong is sourced from Shimada in Shizuoka Prefecture, where the Ojiro river and the gentle mountains of the region contribute ideal growing conditions for tea. This spring-harvest tea is lightly oxidized.
Prized for its milky scent and taste, our Milk Oolong is produced by hand in the Fujian Province of China, within the Prefecture of Quanzhou. These hand-rolled leaves are a rich olive-green color and brew up into a beautiful golden liquor. This relatively new cultivar of tea has a distinctive mellow, buttery flavor.
Oriental Beauty is also known as Formosa Bai Hao, white tip oolong, or champagne oolong. This heavily oxidized oolong tea is sourced from Taiwan. Oriental Beauty features dark brown leaves with silvery tips, and has notes of fruit, honey, and spice.
We've recently found a much higher quality Ginseng Oolong than we previously had available. This newer blend is made with a special premium oolong from Hunan, China, and only the youngest tea leaves are used. The leaves are then withered, rolled and ultimately dusted with ginseng and licorice root, creating a mild tea with woody and floral notes and a hint of sweetness and spice. This blend is also sometimes called “King’s Tea” or “Emperor Oolong.”
Our Sandia Sangria Oolong is a fruity sangria-inspired blend with hints of watermelon, lemon, and orange. This tea is named after New Mexico's Sandia mountains—sandia means "watermelon" in Spanish, which is what these mountains are said to look like when they glow red at sunset. Sandia Sangria is delicious hot and also makes an excellent iced tea!
FAQs about oolong tea
Does oolong tea have caffeine?
Yes, oolong tea contains caffeine. While the exact caffeine content of a particular tea depends on a number of factors, oolong teas tend to be less caffeinated than black teas, but more caffeinated than green teas. On average, they tend to have less than half the caffeine of a cup of coffee.
How long should you steep oolong tea?
Steeps times vary depending on the particular tea, but in general we recommend infusing oolong teas for around two to three minutes. For subsequent infusions, you can infuse the tea for a longer period of time.
Is oolong tea a black tea?
Oolong tea and black tea are made from the same plant, but they are two different types of tea. Black teas are usually fully oxidized, meaning that the leaves have turned brown. Oolong teas tend to be partially oxidized. Oolong tea leaves are often also rolled into tight balls.
Can you add milk to oolong tea?
Loose leaf oolong tea is usually consumed on its own, without any milk or added sweeteners. That said, milk tea is a popular take on tea that often uses oolong tea as a base. While milk can sometimes drown out the delicate flavors present in an oolong tea, there's nothing wrong with adding milk if that's the way you like it!