Home Tea Facts What is Oolong?

What is Oolong?

by The Tea Haus

You’re probably familiar with black tea, green tea, or even white tea, but may have some questions about Oolong tea. Oolong tea represents only 2% of the world’s tea and combines different qualities of the dark and green teas in one unique family of its own.

Oolong is traditionally from China and is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed. Oolong tea is partially oxidized compared to the lightly oxidized green teas and more oxidized black teas of the world. This gives green tea the lighter hue and black tea the deeper black colour it’s named after. Oolong has a delicious flavour and rich history. Learn more about the special tea.

The History of Oolong Tea

The exact origin of Oolong goes way back to centuries when important news and historical facts travelled by word of mouth. A Wikipedia web page or even a Wikipedia book page, were not readily available for recording important information. As a result, we are left with a few alternative origin stories. There are three main theories about how oolong tea came to be.

1. The “Tribute Tea” Theory
This theory claims that oolong tea stems directly from the Dragon-Phoenix Cake tribute tea, which was made up of two different tea types: “Dragon” (Long) and “Phoenix” (Fong), produced in the Beiyuan tea gardens. When loose-leaf tea became the primary kind of tea served,, the name was changed to “Black Dragon” or oolong tea, to associate with the dark leaves that resulted from  processing.

2. The “Wuyi” Theory

This theory claims that oolong tea was originally named after the Wuyi mountain region, where it was first documented in poems from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

3. The “Anxi” Theory
The final theory claims that oolong tea was first discovered in the Anxi region of the Fujian province when a man named Sulong, Wulong or Wuliang, accidentally allowed his tea leaves to oxidize after being distracted during the harvest.

How is Oolong Made?

Oolong tea is produced in a number of steps. Tea processing can be complicated in order to oxidize the leaves just the right amount. These steps can prove to be time consuming. The four steps include:

  1. Wilting: The leaves are left in the sun to be dried of all moisture.
  2. Bruising: Once wilted, the leaves are put in a tray for quickening of oxidation.
  3. Fermentation: The leaves are left so that the chlorophyll is broken down and tannins are released.
  4. Fixing: The tea is heated and the oxidation halts. The semi-oxidized leaves result in Oolong’s flowery and fruity taste.

Health Benefits of Oolong Tea

Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals and helpful antioxidants. Some of the main antioxidants in oolong tea, known as tea polyphenols, are theaflavins, thearubigins and EGCG. These are responsible for many of its health benefits

A cup of brewed tea will contain approximately:

Fluoride: 5–24% of the RDI.
Manganese: 26% of the RDI.
Potassium: 1% of the RDI.
Sodium: 1% of the RDI.
Magnesium: 1% of the RDI.
Niacin: 1% of the RDI.
Caffeine: 36 mg.

The Tea Haus’ Oolong Selection

We offer a selection of wonderful Oolong Teas primarily from China & Taiwan. Oolong is a very popular type of tea amongst connoisseurs in China and throughout Asia, and is an important part of the Gonfu Tea Ceremony. Our personal favourite is the Milk Oolong Quangzhou – a sweet, milky Oolong that benefits from multiple infusions.

Most Popular- Milk Oolong

This Oolong is our staff favourite. Grown in the Wuyi Mountains in China, the tea plants grow at an altitude of 1500-4000 feet above sea level. This Oolong is often referred to as ‘premium Oolong with sweet milk and light orchid notes peeking out from camellia depth’. Make sure you make multiple infusions with this Oolong as it tends to get better with every infusion. The milky flavour is a result of a sudden change of temperature during harvest.

Learn more >>

Most Soothing – Gaba Oolong

This tea contains a high percentage of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), known for having a calming effect on the nervous system. It has a wonderful, soothing flavour.  Tea plants are known to produce leaves especially high in glutamic acid. About two weeks prior to plucking, GABA oolong leaves are partially shaded, which causes increased production of this substance.

During the oxidation-phase of production, all oxygen is replaced with nitrogen gas, whose presence causes the glutamic acid to be converted to Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. To meet Japanese standards and be labeled GABA Tea, the finished product must contain at least 150mg of GABA per 100g dry weight.

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Most Luxurious – Oriental Beauty Oolong

Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao Oolong tea) is one of the most precious teas in Taiwan. Queen Elizabeth II was so impressed by its aroma and flavor that when she first sipped it she declared this tea an “oriental beauty”. This magical tea is organically grown and has a wonderful mix of bright white, green, red, yellow, and brown color. This tea has a very intoxicating fruity and honey aroma and an intense, rich aftertaste of honey and peaches that lingers in your mouth.

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Most Affordable – Se Chung

Se Chung is a speciality Chinese Oolong with a slightly earthy aroma and delicious aromatic taste. The flavours are great for lovers of bold tasting tea. The drink can be enjoyed anytime of the day but has a great kick for starting off the morning strong.

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Honorable Mentions

Iron Goddess

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Wuyi Rock Oolong

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Jade Oolong

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Get Obsessed with Oolong

Here at The Tea Haus we love our Oolongs, replacing our routine teas with a Milk Oolong is the ideal comfort drink during chilly seasons leading up to summer. Check out our selection of Oolong teas and choose the perfect blend for you.

View All Oolong Teas >>


Art of Tea. History of Oolong Tea. Retrieved from http://www.artoftea.com/history-of-oolong-tea

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