Taste, caffeine, health benefits and side effects

There is an amazing tea known as Oolong tea. This exquisite tea of Chinese origins hosts a ton of complex and delectable flavors, an interesting method of production and a few health benefits or two. Let’s see how “black dragon tea” is made. Twists, rolls and all!

What is Oolong tea?

The origins of Oolong, like many other tea varieties in the world, aren’t entirely certain. There are three prevailing theories as to the origins of Oolong in China.

One suggests it was an offshoot of a variety of tea cake. This theory suggests that as Chinese tea culture moved from cakes and bricks of tea to loose-leaf, the long, blackish and curly leaves came about from the once-solid bricks of tea leaves. This also explains the name “Oolong”. Because these leaves were dark and resembled the curling, serpentine bodies of dragons, they were called “black dragon”.

Other theories suggest Oolong was a tradition that originated in the Wuyi mountains. In contrast, another theory suggests the place of origin was Anxi province and developed by a man coincidentally named, “Oolong”.

Whatever the truth is, Oolong tea is twisted and rolled leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are harvested and allowed to oxidize longer than green tea, but not to the extent of black tea. The twisting, bruising, and rolling of Oolong leaves allows them to develop their truly remarkable appearance, aroma, and intriguing flavors.

This imparts Oolong with an interesting and complex flavor array with some hints and notes akin to fermentation. Oolong is still popular in Fujian and other regions in southern China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Oolong is also often used as the basis for bubble tea as well as the Fujian Gongfu tea ceremony.

What does Oolong tea taste like

The flavor of Oolong, like all teas, depends on the terroir, geography, harvesting time, processing method, and brewing method all used to produce the tea.

Some varieties, especially those grown in the Taiwanese highlands are said to be sublimely exceptional, even being referred to as the “champagne of teas”.

Oolong tea’s flavor and aroma palette can range from woody and thick with green and vegetal hints to sweet, fruity and floral. Some Oolong teas can even have nutty, smoky, and malty flavor palettes.

Some traditional methods of enjoying Oolong include using the Yixing clay pot. This method allows the clay pot’s porous earthenware interior and the flavors and aromas of the tea to harmonize and produce a complex and rich character that greatly enhances the drink’s flavor. Enjoying Oolong with a gaiwan cup is also a traditional method of Oolong preparation. Both Yixing and gaiwan cups may be featured in Gongfu tea ceremonies.

Health benefits of Oolong tea

Some keen health-enhancing effects Oolong possesses include:

  • Providing vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and fluoride.
  • A healthy dose of age-defying and cell-strengthening antioxidants.
  • Caffeine boosts our physical and mental performance.
  • Promoting weight loss and helping to cut down on bad cholesterol.
  • Heart protecting properties.
  • The antioxidants and fluoride in Oolong can promote healthy bones and teeth (Medical New Today).
  • Can potentially help to soothe eczema.

How much caffeine is in Oolong?

Many Oolong teas on average will contain anywhere from 10 to 60 milligrams of caffeine per an 8-ounce cup.

This sets the amount of caffeine in Oolong a bit higher than the average green tea, but lower than black tea or coffee. This does not mean every single Oolong leaf will be brimming with caffeine, however.

The caffeine content in tea can vary based on the tea’s growing conditions and how it is brewed.

What are the side effects of Oolong?

In an ideal world, we would say, “none” and mean it! Teas like Oolong have so many great benefits; it is hard to see the negatives in them. Unfortunately, there are a few. Many of which can be avoided by enjoying Oolong in moderation. Some of the side effects include;

  • Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  • The flavonoids in tea can inhibit iron absorption from our food, but this can be ameliorated if one adds foods high in vitamin-c to our menus.

But, for those who keep their Oolong intake within reason, these various health risks may not pose much of an issue. Still, always consult your doctor or physician when adding beverages to your diet, especially if you are taking medication.

Final Thought

Oolong tea is one of the most complex and multivarious teas in the camellia sinensis family. Oolong’s flavor and aroma always offer something interesting and new. Oolong has a host of keen health benefits, and if enjoyed within reason can provide a healthy, and delicious caffeine experience!