What Is Oolong Tea?
What is Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is semi fermented/oxidized tea. The degree of oxidation varies among different types of Oolong. This variation in the oxidation gives Oolong tea unique characters and complexity. Oxidation levels of different Oolong teas can differ greatly. Some are very green with an oxidation level of only 10-15%, while some are very dark at 85%. As a result, the taste profile can range from floral and fragrant to smoky and malty.
You will see (particularly in the infused leaf) that the edges of the leaves are slightly bruised (brownish). The reason for this is that the leaves are lightly bruised to start the oxidation process. Oolong teas usually are not picked too early or at too tender a stage. They must be produced immediately after picking.
Unlike leaves for green tea, those destined to be Oolong are wilted in the direct sun and then shaken in tubular bamboo baskets to bruise the leaf edges. The bruising is what make the edges oxidize faster than the center. After 15-25 minutes (depending upon ambient temperature and humidity levels) the tea is fired, locking in the special flavor profile.
How to brew Oolong Tea
Quality Oolong teas have complex taste profiles. Usually, same tea leaves can be infused multiple times (2-3 times).
Water temperature for steeping Oolong varies depending greatly on oxidation level. Generally, the darker or more oxidized types of Oolong tea the hotter the water. For example, the Fomosa Oolong and Oriental Beauty Oolong are best when steeped in freshly boiled water, because they both have higher levels of oxidation. One the other spectrum, the less oxidized Jade Oolong and Pouchong Oolong are best when infused in water that is 195°F.
Amount of tea leave to use really depend on personal preference and taste. Generally, we use 2-4 grams of leaves per 8 oz. cup. We would recommend using less tea leaves to start.
As for brewing/steeping tea, we suggest steeping 2-3 minutes for the first infusion and 3-5 minutes for the second infusion. If a third infusion is desired, steep for 5 minutes.