What exactly is Oolong tea?

What exactly is Oolong tea?

One question we often get asked at All Day Tea Club is: “Is Oolong tea a different kind of tea plant?”

In today’s blog we’d like to share some insights with you all.

Unlike wine - which can be brewed with a countless variation of grapes, tea is predominantly just steeped from one kind of tea plant - Camellia sinensis. The leaves of Camellia Sinensis, an evergreen shrub plant, are the base ingredients of the common teas we drink, black tea, green tea, and of course oolong tea is no exception.

The difference between green tea, black tea, and oolong tea ultimately lies in its difference of oxidation of the leaves during its preparation phase. Commonly there are only three categories of tea that exist - no oxidization or lightly oxidized (oxidation level from 0% to 5%), partially oxidized (oxidation level from 5% to 50%), and lastly heavily oxidized (oxidation level over 80%). When discussing the oxidation levels of tea making, the artisans are usually referring to the naturally occurring enzymes in the tea leaves. The most predominant enzymes are Catechin (with 4 subgroups), Polyphenol oxidase, and Peroxidase.

Evidently, green tea - with its lightest flavour and appearance - is an non oxidized tea, whereas black tea gets its dark and rich colour as well as its pungent flavour from its heavy oxidation. Then there comes the partially oxidized tea - which we now generally refer to as Oolong Tea. Out of the 3, Oolong tea has the most variation and complexity in its taste due to its wide choice range of oxidation levels.  

As to where does the name “Oolong” come from, that’s up for debate; some people claim it’s referring to the colour and the shape of the tea leaf, some say it’s the nickname of the first brewer who discovered this partially oxidized tea, for all we know, there isn’t a definitive answer to the origin of the name, but one thing we know for sure is that it’s delicious.

So there we have it, next time while you are enjoying your cup of oolong, you now know the tea’s sophisticated flavour lies in the delicate levels of its oxidation.

In the upcoming blog post we’ll share with you the art of oolong tea making, and how artisans manage the levels of oxidation of each tea to achieve all the different flavours ranging from Four Seasons Oolong, Tungting Oolong, and Iron Goddess… 

That’s all from us for now! Drink more tea, hug more people, activate those happy chemicals in you.

Much Love,

All Day Tea Club

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