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New Year, New Oolongs….
Posted on Jan 29, 2016
Amazing taste, great health benefits, high in vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants, that’s Oolong tea. What’s not to like about it?
Oolong tea, also known as Wulong tea is mainly known for its ability to assist with weight loss, but it is also an amazing tasting tea with a wealth of flavours. All teas come from the camellia sinensis plant, but it is the processing that determines whether it is a White, Green, Oolong or Black tea. Black tea is fermented, Green and White tea is unfermented and Oolong comes in the middle, semi fermented. Oolong tea leaves are picked from the plant, kept under controlled conditions and allowed to oxidise. The range in taste and aromas of the various Oolong teas is a combination of the different growing conditions, soil and climate, and is dependent on the skill of the person processing the tea.
All Oolong teas taste fantastic and are a great starting point for the novice tea leaf drinker.
Oolong teas are delightfully complex and develop in the cup much more than Green and White teas. Oolongs have recipes and variables that must be closely managed from withering time to the way the leaves are tossed, bruised, rolled and compressed to exacting temperature and humidity standards. And it’s these recipes and variables that give way to the multitude of tastes, flavours, colours and aroma’s.
Oolong tea is traditionally produced in China and Taiwan, but the noteworthy producer of green Oolongs at the moment is Taiwan.
Oolongs range from light and floral to dark and chocolateley, and these different flavours are a result of the oxidation level and the roasting. Roasting adds flavour, aroma and body.
Light Oolongs can look a lot like Green tea. Take the Iron Goddess of Mercy from China, where each leaf resembles a tiny piece of jade. Iron Goddess has a lightly roasted, rich, fruity, charming orchid fragrance and taste. When brewed the honey and orchid fragrance give way to a light, sweet taste with a smooth texture to the tongue. A perfect afternoon cup of tea.
Another traditional Chinese Oolong is Golden Osmanthus. This Oolong from the Anxi province with a mild climate, fertile soil and abundant rainfall, produces a tea with a mellow, fruity, floral taste and a rich golden colour when brewed. Ideal for drinking at lunchtime or in the afternoon.
In Taiwan, the tea leaves are grown slowly on remote high mountain tops which gives the tea a unique sweet flavour. The cool damp mountain air and the rich dark soil produce extremely high quality Oolongs, such as the Imperial Alishan. The leaves are processed and fermented in the traditional way to give a tea which has a fresh floral aroma and creamy buttery taste and it is one of the most highly prized teas in the country.
Some Oolongs which are subject to higher oxidation or roasted levels lose the super-fresh attributes of the jade style Oolongs. These more heavily processed teas develop more warm, mellow flavours, such as the Taiwanese Dong Ding. Dong Ding offers a deliciously mild, sweet, fresh, creamy tasting tea with undertones of honey and nectar and a brilliant golden colour when brewed. Well known for aiding digestion, this tea is perfect for drinking after a meal and has a rich, soft, buttery aftertaste.
Oolongs are usually made with larger leaves than green and blacks which means they need extra room to unfurl and release their full flavour. To brew Oolong tea, clean tasting water is a must and normally, Oolongs thrive with full boiling water or just -off boiling water. And as with all teas, Oolongs may be infused several times. Generally, the lighter Oolongs will begin to get grassy in taste after their fourth or fifth infusion, but the moderately oxidised, roasted Oolongs like the Dong Ding, may be infused for up to ten times.
So whatever your taste, there is an Oolong to suite every palate, and as well as tasting fantastic, Oolong tea offers several health benefits from helping to prevent cancer, heart disease and tooth decay to treating obesity and diabetes and boosting the immune system. So why not try one of these sweet easy drinking teas with elegant aromas today?