What is Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is semi fermented which is one of the reasons it has such a unique character. Oxidation levels of different Oolong teas can differ greatly. Some are very green with a 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. The semi fermentation/oxidation is what gives Oolong tea the unique character.
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.