Oolong Tea is a specialty tea with rich and floral aromas. They are among the most difficult teas to produce and their quality depends largely on the skill of producer and tea master. China (Fujian, Guandong) and Taiwan produce majority of this type of tea.
Oolong is effective in weight loss according to traditional Chinese belief. Some scientific research also shows the slimming effects of this tea.
Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea and stands somewhere between green tea (un-oxidized) and black tea (fully oxidized). Oolong green is generally 30% to 50% oxidized whereas black Oolong could be up to 70% oxidized. These levels of oxidation develop different flavors and aromas. For example greener leaf types have vegetal and floral aromas. However darker or black types have sweet and woody notes.
Manufacturing process starts with picking and withering the tea leaves. The next stage is oxidation which is a very delicate step since it determines the flavor of the tea. The leaves are spread on bamboo trays, in a humid environment at temperatures around 20-25°C for 10 hours or more. Grower touches and smells the leaves and stops the oxidation process when he thinks the desired level of flavors and aromas has been reached. In order to stop oxidation, he places the leaves in heated rotating cylinders and “fires” the leaves. The firing process stops any further oxidation of the leaves. The remaining steps after firing are rolling, drying, compression, final drying and sorting of tea leaves. Some growers or merchants roast the leaves at the end with the help of electric ovens or bamboo baskets. This step will act as additional firing and can add woody, sweet and sometimes caramelized aromas to the roasted Oolong.