Guide to Oolong Tea


Oolong Tea Brew Guide

Oolong tea: with a name that translates to "black dragon," it's little wonder that this tea has seen rising popularity in many circles. Oolong tea falls somewhere between green tea and black tea, but may have properties related to both. It has a rich history and has been an important part of many Asian cultures for a long time--but thanks to modern availability, you can add oolong tea to your personal tea stash and enjoy it whenever you like. 


What is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea, which comes primarily from China and Taiwan, comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Harvest time depends on the type of oolong: while green oolongs are plucked at high altitudes, generally from April through the autumn months, dark oolongs are usually harvested in the late spring, when leaves are more mature. 


Oolong can ultimately have characteristics of both green and black tea, and which one it is closer to may depend on the oxidation process during production. Green oolongs generally see around 30-50% oxidation, while dark oolongs see closer to 60-70%. While the greener oolong teas usually have a rich, slightly earthy taste, darker varieties have a deeper, more roasted flavor.


Like most teas, oolong contains a high level of antioxidants. However, the properties of oolong tea may be stronger than either black teas or green teas. Some people report that oolong tea may help lower blood sugar levels when combined with a healthy diet, but be sure to check with your doctor before using oolong tea or other supplements. 


What is the Best Way to Make Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea can be made in a variety of ways. Often, it's made in tea bags, just like any other type of tea, and can be steeped normally. However, many people feel that small pot brewing is one of the best ways to make oolong tea. Not only is small pot brewing traditional, but it can also offer a richer, more relaxing overall experience. Small pot brewing uses a small teapot and allows for around 4-5 steeps, with around 10-20 seconds in each steep. This process allows you to take in the full oolong brewing experience, inhale the scent of the tea, and enjoy your tea-brewing session fully.


Can You Put Milk in Oolong Tea?

Typically, oolong tea is not made with milk or with any other form of dairy. In fact, oolong tea is usually served without any added milk or sugar. Oolong tea also has a very light texture, which means that heavy whole milk or cream may settle to the bottom of the cup. However, adding a splash of skim or 2% milk to a cup of oolong tea can help enhance the flavor. Experiment with the flavors you enjoy to see what works best for your needs. 


How to Make Oolong Tea 

Ready to make Oolong tea the traditional way? Follow these steps to a satisfying oolong tea experience. It's more than just tea: it's a chance to relax and enjoy.


What Do You Need to Make Oolong Tea?

If you want to make oolong tea the traditional way, you'll want to make sure you've gathered the right materials. Start with tea leaves, a teapot, small cups or teacups, and a strainer. You may also need a fair cup or a small decanter. 


How to Measure Oolong Tea

For approximately one cup of tea, you'll need 1.5-2.5 teaspoons of oolong tea leaves, depending on the blend you're using. Experiment until you find the combination that fits your preferences! Keep in mind that when making tea, your measurements need not necessarily be exact. You can measure your tea leaves directly into the teapot. 


Step 1: Boil Your Water

First boil, then allow to cool for just two minutes. This should get you to the approximate temperature for making oolong tea: around 190 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also choose to measure the temperature of your water.

Step 2: Rinse the Leaves

Fill the pot with hot water and allow it to sit for just five seconds. Then, discard the water. This first step is just a rinse: a chance to unfurl the leaves and prepare them for the later stages of the steeping process. 

Step 3: Steep

Fill the pot, with the tea leaves still inside, with water again. Allow the tea to sit for 10-20 seconds, then pour the tea through the strainer and into your decanter. From the decanter, pour it into the teacups. By pouring into the decanter first, you'll create a tea that is the same flavor for everyone sharing the pot. 


You can continue to steep the tea as the color deepens and the flavor changes. Pay attention to how the flavor of your oolong tea changes each time you steep it in the pot. Your tea leaves may help tell you what type of flavor you can expect! A tightly furled leaf may yield a lighter flavor during the initial steeps and a deeper flavor as the process progresses, then start to wane. Other tea leaves, including those that are open from the beginning, may yield a richer, deeper flavor from the first pour. This small-pot brewing process allows you to more fully experience the tea brewing process, get familiar with oolong tea, and determine how you best like your tea.


Once you can no longer taste the flavor of the tea leaves, you have fully extracted the leaves and will need to start over with a fresh batch if you intend to continue to drink tea. 


Preparing Oolong Tea from a Tea Bag

If you don't want to prepare oolong tea the traditional way, using the small pot method, don't worry! You can also choose to use a traditional tea bag brewing method. Simply heat your water to boiling, allow to cool for two minutes, then steep the tea bag according to the directions on the bag before drinking.


When to Drink Oolong Tea

If you're planning to enjoy oolong tea to support a weight loss regimen, drink it first thing in the morning or 30 minutes before breakfast or lunch. It's also popular to drink around 25-30 minutes after a meal when you're ready to wind down and enjoy some time with friends and loved ones. 


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