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Oolong Tea Flavor Description

oolong tea flavor description
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The oolong tea flavor description is one of the most complex ones due to the processing techniques it goes through. Often considered a true gem oolong tea’s profile flavor ranges from sweet & subtle floral notes to woody, fruity, and sometimes caramelized notes.

Oolong tea, the name itself has such a meditative feel to it, doesn’t it? This magnificent type of tea is in a league of its own. But what actually makes oolongs so special?

Let’s find out!

What Is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea is one of the main six types of tea and the most versatile one as it covers all degrees of oxidation between green tea & black tea.

The leaves for oolong tea originate from the Camellia Sinensis plant, just like all other tea types. Oolong tea is said to boost your metabolism, encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol and even promote healthy hair!

Wulong or Oolong? Did you know that Wulong tea is the official mandarin translation to English and not oolong as it is often referred to?

Where Is Oolong Tea From?

The first Chinese oolong originated in the Fujian province. Chinese oolongs grow in four main regions

in the high mountainous regions of China in harsh conditions, which contribute to their rich mineral flavors.

In contrast, the first tea plant only appeared in Taiwan in the middle of the 17th century (compared to China which has a 5000 years old history of tea cultivation) when immigrating tea farmers moved to the region.

Furthermore, the Taiwanese oolong grows in remote misty mountains or temperate bamboo-forested foothills.

For example, some of the most important regions in Taiwan are Lishan, Dong Ding, Alishan, and Wenshan.

While the main producers of oolong tea are still China and Taiwan, other major tea-producing countries have also started their own production of this spectacular tea.

How Is Oolong Tea Different From Other Teas?

The difference in taste and smell of tea of oolong tea will depend on the way it is processed and prepared.

Because oolong tea stands in the middle between green tea & black tea in regards to the oxidation levels, oolongs are known as partially oxidized teas. Moreover, oolongs undergo a complex processing method, and while the oxidation levels determine their basic taste characteristics the degree of roasting is what defines the power of the oolong flavor but also its mildness.

In comparison, black teas and green teas have different processes. On one hand, black tea goes through a lengthy process of oxidation. Whereas, green tea is dried in the shade and then either pan-fried or steamed.

Oolong Tea Producing Countries

The main producing countries of oolong tea are Taiwan and China, where the tea originated from. However, there are four main regions that produce Oolong tea, they include, Taiwan, the Anxi Mountains, the Phoenix Mountains, and the Wuyi Mountains. The Fujian province in China holds a large share of this product market.

In Taiwan, the main producing regions –although not the largest ones are Lishan, Dong Ding, Alishan, and Wenshan.

Other than China and Taiwan, there are other tea-producing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, and New Zealand that have started their own cultivation of oolong tea.

Oolong Harvesting Time

In Taiwan, oolong teas are typically harvested 3 to 4 times a year. The spring harvest is usually the best in terms of quality and quantity. Winter harvests are not that common but can produce good quality leaves.

In China, oolong tea is usually harvested in the autumn season. Tea farmers call this “Autumn Dew Harvest”. It falls between two of the solar terms, the “White Dew” on September 7th and the “Cold Dew” on October 8th. Pretty interesting, right?

Oolong Plucking Technique

In order to produce Oolong tea, the buds need to have reached a certain maturity level. This means that the uppermost three to four leaves from new growth from the tea plant need to be open which makes them ideal for the making of oolong tea.

Plucking oolong tea leaves by hand is popular both in China and Taiwan. Because is the best way to harvest the new leaves but can be very labor-intensive.

Oolong Processing

Oolong tea processing depends and varies significantly on the region where it is produced.

For example, in China oolong teas go through the following stages:

  1. Plucking
  2. Withering
  3. Oxidation
  4. Panning
  5. Rolling
  6. Drying & Firing

Interestingly enough the Taiwanese method occurs over course of two days and the stages are that the tea plant goes through are as follows:

Day One

  1. Plucking
  2. Withering
  3. Oxidation
  4. Firing
  5. Rolling
  6. Drying

Day Two

  1. Heating /Stirring
  2. Rolling
  3. Compression
  4. Final drying
  5. Sorting
  6. Roasting

This processing method produces what we know as green oolong teas. This means that Taiwanese Oolong tea is lightly oxidized and closely resembles the flavor of green tea.

🍵 Interested in the oxidation process of tea? Learn about how the oxidation in tea processing affects the flavor of your cuppa.

Oolong flavor description & Aroma

As I mentioned before Oolong tea’s profile flavor ranges from sweet & subtle floral notes to woody, fruity, and sometimes caramelized notes. For this reason, oolong liquor tends to have a sweet aroma with hints of fruitiness. However, there is no universal taste and smell of oolong tea as the taste will depend on the type of oolong tea you choose to drink.

For example, Oolong tea from the Anxi County of the Fujian province in China is slightly more oxidized than that of Taiwan. Therefore this variety of oolong t has subtle flavor notes similar to honey.

Remember: while the oxidation levels determine the basic taste characteristics of oolong teas, the degree of ROASTING is what defines the power of the oolong flavor but also its mildness.

Oolong Liquor Color

Interestingly, just like the smell and taste of oolong tea, the color will also vary upon the type you choose to drink.

The color spectrum of oolong tea starts from a red jade color and ends at a very pale yellow color. Lower and higher levels of oxidation will determine the color of the tea itself.

What Are Some Of The Health Benefits Of Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea to has numerous health benefits for drinkers. It is full of antioxidants and has catechin and caffeine which can help fight free radicals in your body.

Let’s explore some of the other health benefits that oolong tea possesses!

Boosts Your Metabolism & Lowers Cholesterol

Oolong tea can have a slimming effect by stimulating your metabolism rate. The tea has polyphenols in it that are able to block enzymes that build fat.

On the other hand, Oolong tea is known to reduce cholesterol and promote a healthy heart. Since oolong tea is semi-oxidized, it has an ideal amount of the polyphenol molecule which is able to activate the enzyme lipase, which is said to dissolve body fat.

Aids Digestion

If you aren’t sensitive to caffeine, then oolong tea can help you with your digestion. This tea is mildly antiseptic and can help clear bad bacteria from your belly. It has smooth and gentle flavors that can soothe the stomach when consumed hot.

Promotes Healthy Hair

Taking a tea rinse from the oolong leaves can also help with hair loss. This is mainly because of all the antioxidants it carries within. It will also leave your hair feeling thicker and shinier. Oolong can soften your hair as well.

Increases Mental Alertness

This cuppa is not only good for aiding your physical body but also your mental being. Oolong is helps revitalize your mental alertness and performance. This is mainly because of the regulated amount of caffeine it has.

What Is The Caffeine Content In Oolong Tea?

The caffeine content in oolong tea is be between 37 milligrams to 55 milligrams per 8-ounce serving.

Keep in mind that the caffeine content will depend on the steeping time, the temperature of the water, the number of times you brew the tea, the time of harvesting the tea, and the processing system of the tea leaves.

Famous Types of Oolong Tea Flavor Description

Oolong tea comes in all shapes and sizes.

Let’s explore some of the famous types of oolong tea from China and Taiwan.

Chinese oolong teas

Dan Chong/Dan Cong or Phoenix Tea

Dan Chong/Dan Cong or Phoenix Tea is produced in the Guangdong province of China. It is among the bestsellers of oolong tea. The Chinese name for this tea means “single bush”. The leaves of this tea are harvested from one single bush of the tea plant.

Each bush will have a different flavor which will result in a different taste for the tea as well. Generally, the Phoenix oolong tea has a rich, strong feel. Furthermore, the tea flavor notes can range from apricot to sweet potato, tropical flowers, cinnamon & honey. Some may also have a floral note that is similar to orchids or orange blossoms.

Ti Kuan Yin /Tie Guan Yin Or Iron Goddess Of Mercy

Ti Kuan Yin /Tie Guan Yin or Iron Goddess of Mercy is probably the most famous Chinese tea. It grows in the mountainous region of the Fujian province. Legend says that monks had originally trained monkeys to harvest the leaves of the tea plant!

This oolong tea has a light and acidic taste with mineral hints and an intense floral to fruity flavor and a similar scent to orchids and had a refreshing feel to it. Furthermore the color of the liquors is often a pale yellow.

Da Hong Pao Or Wuyi Oolong Tea

The Da Hong Pao or Wuyi oolong tea is one of the oolongs that undergo a long process of oxidation.

This oolong tea has a sharp, smoky, and mineral taste that is very unique among all oolong teas. It has hints of caramel, toast, chocolate, and butter. All of this contributes to a strong aroma and bright orange and yellow color.  

Taiwanese oolongs

Gaoshan Or High Mountain Oolong Tea

Gaoshan or High mountain oolong teas comprise a selection of different oolongs which grow at the highest points in Taiwan. High Mountain oolongs include Alishan, Wu She, and Yu-Shan. These are grow at altitudes higher than 3,300 feet and tend to have slower growth compared to other oolong teas.

The tea often has a sweet and crisp taste with hints of flowers and pine within it. The texture of the tea is smooth and creamy and may have aromas of rose, jasmine, and geranium. The color is oftentimes a bright yellow but can differ upon the variant of tea you have.

Jin Xuan Tea Or Milky Oolong Tea

Jin Xuan Tea or Milky oolong tea is also known as the Golden Daylily tea or Nai Xiang tea. The tea is grows in higher altitudes and is also produced in Thailand. There is no actual milk in the tea but rather the leaves themselves carry this flavor and aroma.

The taste can be described as creamy, light, flowery butter, and quite smooth. The aroma is also creamy and butter and allows for an exceptional drinking experience. The color ranges from a light golden to a pale yellow.

oolong tea flavor description

Favorite Oolong tea blends

The ones we mentioned above are the pure forms of oolong tea. They are the ones that originate from China and Taiwan. But what about oolong tea blend flavor description?

Oolong tea blends are very famous because it infuses those traditional tastes of oolong and puts a modern spin on it. Infusing other flavors makes the tea more enjoyable for drinkers and gives them more options to indulge in. Let’s explore some of the popular oolong tea blends below.

Coconut Oolong Tea

The coconut oolong teas present tea drinkers with a very tropical taste. The combination of the already fruity oolong with the subtle sweetness of coconut results in a very light and sweet tea. The tea is great when consumed both hot and cold.

Peach Oolong Tea

Some people say that oolong already has a faint taste of peaches in it. Thus, accentuating that flavor isn’t going to do any harm! Peach oolong tea blends have a beautiful peachy aroma and light peachy taste that is sweet but not overpowering.

Orchid Oolong Tea

This blend of oolong tea is a rare find but definitely a fan favorite. It is scented with real orchid petals and can only be produced at certain times of the year when orchids are in bloom. It produces a very light sweet tea that has a stunning aroma.

How to Brew Oolong Tea?

After all this, you might be itching to make yourself a cup of nice oolong tea. Well, you’ll be happy to know that the brewing process of oolong tea is easier compared to other loose leaf teas. We’ll guide you through the process and help you make the perfect cuppa!

Start by boiling your water. You can use fresh, pure cold filtered water. We would recommend using spring water as it allows for the best flavor. Since styles of oolong vary so much, so do the steeping temperatures and times.

Generally, oolong tea leaves are steeped anywhere between 82°C to 95°C for around 1 to 5 minutes. Most oolong teas are designed to have multiple steeps. With each steeping session, the rolled or twisted leaves will unravel a little more, revealing more layers of flavor.

You can get up to 5 infusions out of a high-quality oolong tea! When it comes to measurements, using around 2 grams of loose leaves per 8-ounce cup of water is standard.

Also, try not to over-steep your oolong tea. Oolong tea is meant to taste best with multiple short infusions. Brewing your oolong tea for too long and that too in very hot temperatures can lead to your tea becoming bitter. You can try tasting your tea after steeping to make sure the level is to your liking.

The tools you’ll need to make oolong tea are the loose oolong tea leaves, filtered water, an electric kettle or stove to boil water, a filter or tea infuser, and your mug of choice. Having a mug with an infuser installed can also be handy but it’s not mandatory.

A tip for brewing oolong tea is giving the loose tea leaves a quick rinse before infusing, this will awaken the leaves and result in a nicer flavor. Also, you can warm up the cup beforehand to keep the temperature of the tea intact as it hits the cup.

What Food Will Pair Well With Oolong Tea?

Just because oolong tea itself has an exquisite taste doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed with other food! Given its mild and gentle taste, oolong tea can be a great accomplice for many types of food.

Keep in mind that overpowering oolong tea can be easy to be easy with your pairings. Pair it with items that won’t steal its thunder and you’ll have a wonderful experience. To give you a head start we have come up with some possible combinations for you to try!

Also, there are many types of oolong tea, there are light oolongs and dark oolongs. So, when pairing it with your food of choice, be careful not to collide the flavors but rather complement them.

1.    Herby dishes or salads

2.    Fruity desserts

3.    Smoked cheese or cheese boards

4.    Smokes meat or fish

5.    Fruits

6.    Salty foods

7.    White meat

8.    Caramel desserts

9.    Spiced bread or pastries

10. Roasted vegetables

FAQs about oolong tea

1.    Can I Drink Oolong Tea Before Going To Sleep?

Oolong tea doesn’t contain caffeine and thus is not the best beverage to have before you go to sleep. Even though caffeine levels are low in oolong tea, it can be enough to disrupt your sleep cycle.

2.    Why Does My Oolong Tea Taste Bitter?

Different levels of oxidation in the oolong tea can result in it turning a bit bitter. Also, brewing oolong tea for too long in very hot temperatures can make it taste bitter.

3.    How Many Cups Of Oolong Tea Can I Have In A Day?

It will be okay to drink about 4 cups of oolong tea per day. Taking high doses of oolong tea for long periods of time can cause problems to your health.

4.    Is Oolong Tea A Black Tea?

Oolong tea is neither a black tea nor green tea. It falls in a category of its own and has characteristics that differ


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Uehara M, Sugiura H, Sakurai K (2001). A trial of oolong tea in the management of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. 2001 Jan;137(1):42-3. Kazuaki Hosoda, Ming-Fu Wang, Mei-Ling L

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