Oolong Tea 101

The Connoiseur’s Tea.


Like white, green, and black teas, oolong is a product of the Camellia sinensis plant and is prized among tea connoisseurs for the difficulty of creating the tea. In the oxidation spectrum, oolong teas are more oxidized than green but less so than black teas.  Essentially, oolong undergoes a very controlled oxidation where tea processors must catch/stop the tea at a precise level of oxidation between green and black.  For this reason, as I like to say, oolong is “the connoisseur’s tea”


This unique level of oxidation and processing that defines oolong creates a very durable tea that is great for multiple infusions.  Oolong is also used as a popular weight loss tea in Asia due to the catechins and high levels of polymerized polyphenols that develop during tea production. When brewed, oolong tea produces a woody-malty flavor, characteristic of a dark green tea, but without the over-brewed bite.


Literally, the word oolong translated into from Chinese means "black dragon [tea].”  The Chinese word for oolong is  , which is translated as wulong under the pinyin system.  “Wulong” was mistranslated as “oolong” sometime back; however, because it has been in use for so long, the use of oolong is accepted in its English usage.


Energizing Power Hierarchy: White<Green<Oolong<Black<Coffee<Maté

Oolong Tea Caffeine level: 25-35 mg per 6 oz. cup

Coffee Caffeine level:100-120 mg per 6 oz. cup

*Note: These caffeine levels are industry standard averages.



The creation of oolong tea is the most technically difficult in comparison to white, green and black teas. The two most notable stages of oolong processing are the leaf bruising and oxidation stages.


First, the fresh-picked leaves are lightly withered for 30 minutes to 2 hours, considerably less than withering times for white, green, and black teas.  The leaves are then rushed to the enzyme kill stage to cease all enzymatic activity.  


Next, the leaves are bruised, a unique and difficult technique used only for oolong and depends entirely on human skill.  The leaves are shaken in a bamboo basket or heaped into large piles by a metal rake, bruising them.  Heaping especially helps to augment oxidation.  Bruising the leaves releases oxidative enzymes and oils found in the leaf epidermis, instigating a more intense, proactive oxidation than the passive oxidation of the withering stage. The leaves are then left to oxidize for just enough time before undergoing the final drying stage.


Post oxidation: Often, after the final drying step, oolong tea is only partially dried or misted with water and then left to oxidize in a closed room from a few hours to 3 weeks. After this post oxidation the oolong will be flashed with heat over 212°F (100°C) for under 60 seconds, a process similar to the enzyme kill stage.


Oolong teas are also quite tolerant, durable brewing teas, and work well for multiple infusions. The rule of thumb is to brew oolong for 3 to 5 minutes at 185°F (85°C).  To create additional infusions of the tea, simply steep for an additional 30 seconds per infusion.


Health Benefits

Skin health

High levels of antioxidants, especially catechins

Weight loss aid

Antibacterial compounds


Trending Research studies


Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants

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