The technology of making Oolong tea
The technology of making oolong tea combines some steps of making black tea and green tea, sometimes it can be very complex and the method itself is even different for making different oolong tea. The unique flavour of Oolong tea affected by the technology heavily. The basic technology can be divided into picking, withering, stirring and setting, fixation, rolling and baking.
The new type technology of making Oolong in southern Fujian mountains:
- Withering: Spread fresh tea leaves on the shelf, flip for around 2-3 times, in order to evaporate the moisture evenly. It also softens the tea leaves, processes natural enzymatic oxidization and reduces grassy taste of tea leaves. Withering can be processed by either sun withering, indoor withering or artificial temperature withering.
- Stirring/shaking and setting: This step is the most essential part. The main purpose of stirring/shaking and setting is to monitor moisture evaporation. Continuous monitoring requires a maker to stay up all night. Through this step, the water contained in the fresh tea stems spreads into the leaves. This special water contains twice as much theanine and catechins as well as additional aromatic substances. Consequently, it is stirring/shaking that determines the special aroma of Oolong tea. In very old days, this step is totally processed in a wicker basket which requires huge human resources; while nowadays, it can be done though the aids of machines. After stirring/shaking has been done, the tea leaves are then put to setting. Setting: This step enables for tea leaves to ferment to the desired level. At this level, the tea leaves start to turn into darker green because of the breaking down of the tea cells. Tea begins to develop rich flowery aroma. Those steps are crossed proceeded.
- Fixation: Fixation is to use very high temperature to destroy / inactivates the enzymatic oxidization, inhibits the enzymatic oxidation of tea polyphenols inside tea leaves. This step also helps to evaporate the water content, soften the tea leaves, remove unpleasant odour and promote fresh rich aroma. It enhances the toughness of the tea, which creates the good conditions for next step – Rolling.
- Rolling: In this step, the tea leaves are covered with a cloth, twisted by hand or machine. Rolling makes the liquid inside tea overflow, attached to the surface of the tea leaves, which enhance the natural aroma of the oolong tea and also establishes the shape of the leaves.
- Baking: The aim of baking is not only removing unpleasant odour but also killing the bacterial and enhancing the aroma & quality of the oolong tea. It also stops oxidization and prevents mould growth.
Steeping, Brewing and Serving
There are several types of oolong tea depends on different fermentation degree.
- Light or moderate fermented Oolong tea (Ferment 10% – 50%) – Ti Kwan Yin (Tieguanyin, Iron Goddess) and Taiwan oolong tea.
- Deep fermented Oolong tea (Ferment 50% – 70%) – Wuyi Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao)
For simple glass vessel/teapot style:
- You can brew fewer tea leaves with more hot water for longer brewing time. 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 tea, using 100°C hot water to infuse tea leaves for around 2-5 minutes. Re-steep for around one further infusion. (Adjust by personal taste)
- For Wuyi Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao), using 100°C hot water to infuse tea leaves for around 1-2 minutes. Re-steep for around 2-3 further infusion. (Adjust by personal taste)
For gongfu style:
Please see brewing guide here.
Storage of Oolong Tea
- Avoid direct sunshine. Sunshine will break the chlorophyll of the Oolong tea down into pheophytin. If Oolong tea is stored in a glass container, exposure to sunshine will have a very bad effect on its quality. Therefore, please keep it inside a dark cabinet.
- Avoid moisture. Like any other fried food, oxygen and moisture are the biggest threats to oolong tea. The moist affects the flavour and quality of the tea leaves a lot. Tea will even go mouldy if it is not stored properly. Please store it in a dry ventilated place. Do not store in the place such as bathroom or cabinet besides dishwasher.
- Avoid odour. Tea leaves can absorb the different odour easily; therefore, when you store the oolong tea please make sure it is isolated with other smelly things. Kitchen cabinets are not an ideal place for storing oolong tea.
- Avoid very high temperature.
Some light fermented oolong tea we recommend you store it in the fridge wrapped with aluminium zip lock bags. That is because the fermentation degree of this type of Ti Kwan Yin (Tieguanyin) is relatively light, the substance contained inside tea leaves is not relatively stable, which creates conditions for the growth series of microorganisms. Low temperature can improve the stability and inhibit enzyme activity & microbial growth effectively.
Some deep fermented oolong tea we recommend you store it in a dry ventilated place wrapped with aluminium zip lock bags.
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, 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, 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 1 litre of Oolong tea each 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.