How Oolong tea is Made
The way of making oolong tea combines some steps of making Chinese black tea and green tea. It can be very complex and sometimes different oolong teas can have different types of making technologies. The flavour of the tea can closely be related to the technology used. Normally, the making procedure can be divided into picking, withering, stirring and setting, fixation, rolling and baking.
The new way of making oolong in the southern mountains of Fujian
- Withering: Firstly, fresh tea leaves were put onto the shelves to evaporate the moisture. This step would also soften the tea leaves, help process the natural enzymatic oxidization and reduce the grassy taste. There are three types of withering – sun withering, indoor withering and manual temperature withering.
- Stirring/shaking and setting: This step is the most important part of the entire making procedure. The main purpose of stirring/shaking and setting is to monitor and control the moisture evaporation of the tea. Continuous monitoring requires tea makers to stay up all night. During the step, the moisture inside the fresh tea stems would spread into the leaves, which contains abundant theanine and catechins as well as aromatic substances. As a result, it is the stirring/shaking process that determines the special aroma of the oolong tea. In very old days, this step was processed inside a wicker basket which requires a large amount of manual labour, but now, it can be done by the help of machines. After this step, tea leaves are ready for setting. Setting is a step for fermenting the tea leaves to the desired extent when tea leaves become darker green in colour due to the break of the cells of the tea. This is when the tea starts to develop a rich flowery aroma.
- Fixation: Fixation is the step to destroy the enzymatic oxidization of the tea using high temperature. It also helps to evaporate more moisture, soften tea leaves, remove unwanted odour and form the fresh rich aroma. It also enhances the toughness of the tea that is required before the next step – Rolling.
- Rolling: In this step, tea leaves are put into a bag made of cloth, and then being rolled manually or by machine. Rolling could help move the moisture of tea to the surface of tea leaves, and this will enhance the natural aroma of the oolong tea and also form the shape of tea leaves.
- Baking: This final step is not only to remove unwanted odour for the tea, but also killing bacterias and enhancing the aroma & quality of the tea. It also minimises oxidization and prevents mould from growing.
For simple glass vessel/teapot style:
- Use 2 teaspoons of the tea for 125ml teacup or Gaiwan, 4 teaspoons for 250ml glass or 8 teaspoons for 500ml teapot.
- For Ti Kwan Yin (Tieguanyin) or Taiwan oolong teas, use 100°C hot water to infuse the tea leaves for around 2-5 minutes. Re-brewable for around twice.
- For Wuyi Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao), use 100°C hot water to infuse tea leaves for around 1-2 minutes. Re-brewable for around 2-3 times.
For gongfu style
Please see the brewing guide here.
Storage of Oolong Tea
- Avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight will break the chlorophyll of oolong teas and turn it into pheophytin, which will heavily affect the quality of the tea. Therefore, keep it inside an opaque cabinet if possible.
- Avoid high humidity. Like any other fried foods, oxygen and moisture are the biggest enemies. Moisture in the air can impact the flavour and quality of the tea leaves. Teas can even become mouldy if it is regularly stored in a high humidity environment. So please keep it away from places such as your bathroom or cabinets beside your dishwasher.
- Avoid other odours. Tea leaves can absorb different odours easily, so keep it away from a smelly environment like your kitchen.
- Avoid high temperature.
For lightly fermented oolong teas, we recommend storing it in a fridge, inside an aluminium bag if possible. That is because the substance inside such tea leaves is relatively unstable in the room temperature, which creates conditions for the growth of microorganisms. Low temperature can enhance its stability and effectively inhibit enzyme activity & microbial from growing.
For deeply fermented oolong teas, we recommend storing it in a dry place, wrapped with an aluminium bag if possible.
Frequently asked questions about oolong tea
Frequently asked questions about oolong tea
What makes Oolong tea so special?
Most people are aware of the health benefits of green tea but the health benefits of Oolong tea are less well known. Oolong tea provides the same healthy goodness to your heart, brain, teeth and bones as green tea. But also, it can boost your metabolism, help with your high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and protect against developing certain types of cancer such as bowel, prostate and breast cancer.
So by introducing organic oolong tea to your diet, you will benefit from all these health-giving properties without compromising on taste. What have you got to lose? Try Oolong tea today – you won’t be disappointed.
Can Oolong tea be taken every day?
Yes! Oolong tea can be drunk every day just like the other, tea consumption would normally not an issue so long as you don’t overdo it. Natural tea contains fluoride which helps to protect against cavities but can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. As a general rule, it is safe for most adults to consume less than 8 cups of oolong tea per day.
Is Oolong tea better for you than other teas such as green tea?
It depends on what you want to achieve. Green tea has many benefits due to its high antioxidant levels. However, Oolong tea contains higher polyphenols which help to aid fat burning. For this reason, Oolong tea is better for weight loss than green tea. This is why Oolong tea is often recommended as part of a structured weight loss program.
Can Oolong tea help me lose weight?
Yes! Studies have shown that drinking Oolong tea can help improve fat burning by boosting the body’s metabolism.
I have heard that Oolong tea contains a lot of caffeine, is this true?
A typical 8 oz serving of Oolong tea contains more caffeine than green tea, but less than a cup of black tea.
Is it safe to drink Oolong tea before bedtime?
Because of its relatively high caffeine content, you should avoid drinking Oolong tea late at night. It is recommended to drink two cups each day, one in the morning and the other at lunchtime. This way you will benefit from all the goodness without disrupting your sleep pattern.
Is Oolong tea considered black tea?
No! Oolong tea falls into its own category. The characteristics of the tea will depend on how it was processed. Sometimes it can take on the flavours of green tea, sometimes it is more like black tea. It’s a good idea to try a few varieties to see which one you like best.
Is it safe to drink Oolong tea on an empty stomach?
This is not recommended. The high polyphenols content in Oolong tea will stimulate your stomach which can lead to increased hunger, headaches and vomiting in extreme cases. Stick to drinking Oolong tea with your meals.
What does Oolong tea taste like?
The taste will depend on the way the tea was processed by the tea master. Heavily processed tea can take on an intense full-bodied flavour while a lightly processed one can have softer floral tones. In the middle, the tea takes on a sweet and toasty flavour which is regarded as the nicest by most westerners.
Do you need to sweeten Oolong tea?
The delicate flavours of the tea mean it should be served without milk or sugar. But you can add honey as a sweetener if you wish.
I heard Oolong tea is good for your skin, is this true?
Organic oolong tea contains many antioxidants which can reduce the signs of ageing. Studies have also shown that these antioxidants can also help relieve the symptoms of common skin conditions such as acne and eczema.