Oolong tea also called Wulong tea or Qing Cha in Chinese Pinyin, is a kind of half-fermented tea and is one of the six main types of traditional Chinese tea. The pronunciation of oolong is similar to Wulong. Wu means “dark” and Long means “dragon”.
Oolong tea has distinctive Chinese characteristics among other major types of Chinese tea. It is mainly produced in Fujian, Guangdong Province and other places in China.
The pharmacological effects of oolong tea are highlighted in the aspects of decomposition of fat, weight loss, and bodybuilding. It is called “Slimming tea” and “Bodybuilding tea” in Japan.
1. Legend of Chinese oolong tea
According to a legend, during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), in Anxi County of Fujian Province, there was a retired general called Su Long and he was good at hunting. Because his skin is dark and his body is strong, the villagers called him “Wulong”.
In the spring of one year, Wulong hung a basket on his waist to pick tea in the mountain. At noon, a deer suddenly slipped by. Wulong held a stick and then followed it closely.
Finally, he caught the deer. When he got home, it was night. Wulong and his family were busy cooking the deer and tasting the wild meat, and they forgot to process the fresh tea.
In the morning of the next day, the whole family was ready to process the tea. Surprisingly, the tea leaves placed overnight turned red and emitted a strong fragrance. After that, they continued to process it. When the tea was finished, it had a strong fragrance, unique flavor and no bitter taste in the past. Finally, they named it Wulong tea.
2. History of Chinese oolong tea
The predecessor of oolong tea is called “Beiyuan tea”, which originated in Fujian Province more than 1,000 years ago.
Beiyuan tea is the earliest tribute tea (also called “Gongcha”), which is enjoyed by the emperor and nobles in the Royal Palace. Some Chinese literature show that the production process of Beiyuan tea is similar to that of oolong tea and it is also a kind of half-fermented tea.
Subsequently, the Anxi people first created formal oolong tea around 1725. The successful creation of oolong tea further enriched the tea culture, and the poems about oolong tea on the tea books were often seen and praised.
In the 1970s, Japan started the “oolong tea craze” and oolong tea became popular all over the world. Some green tea regions in Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui, Hunan, Hubei, Guangxi and so on started to introduce the production technology of oolong tea from Fujian Province.
However, Fujian Province has the longest production history, the largest production, and the best quality. Especially the Anxi Tieguanyin and Wuyi Rock tea are famous all over the world.
Nowadays, Anxi County is the largest area of producing oolong tea in China, honored with the title “The Hometown of Oolong Tea”.
The name of oolong tea comes from the shape and color of it. The finished oolong tea leaves are dark, and its shape is curled after brewing, which is like a dark dragon diving into the water.
3. Varieties of Chinese oolong tea
Oolong tea is just a collective name. Here are some common varieties:
- Anxi Tieguanyin, literally called Iron Goddess of Mercy, is one of the most famous oolong tea in China, and it’s also one of the top 10 famous Chinese teas, produced in Anxi County, Fujian Province.
- Huang Jin Gui, literally called Golden Cassia, produced in Anxi County.
- Dancong tea also called Feng Huang Dancong, produced in Feng Huang Town in Chaozhou City of Guangdong Province.
The following teas are all produced in Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province and the tea trees are growing in the cracks of rocks, so they are collectively called Yancha (Wuyi Rock tea):
- Da Hong Pao, literally called Big Red Robe, is the most famous Wuyi Rock tea.
- Wuyi Rougui tea
- Wuyi Shui Xian tea
- Wuyi Ming Cong: Tie Luo Han, literally called Iron Arhat. Bai Ji Guan, literally called White Cockscomb. Shui Jin Gui, literally called Golden Water Turtle.
4. Health benefits of Chinese oolong tea
Oolong tea contains more than 450 kinds of organic chemical components and more than 40 kinds of inorganic mineral elements. These components and elements contain many nutrients and medical ingredients.
The main organic chemical components are tea polyphenols, alkaloids, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, pectins, organic acids, lipopolysaccharides, sugars, enzymes, pigments, etc.
Inorganic mineral elements mainly include potassium, calcium, magnesium, cobalt, iron, manganese, aluminum, sodium, zinc, copper, nitrogen, phosphorus, fluorine, etc.
Here are the main benefits of Chinese oolong tea:
- Improving hearing
- Lowering blood lipid
- Reducing cholesterol
- Refreshing and eliminating fatigue
- Anti-inflammatory and sterilization
- Promoting digestion and reducing the greasy sense
- Anti-aging: oolong tea has the same anti-aging effect as vitamin E.
- Losing weight: oolong tea contains Tannic Acid, which is closely related to fat metabolism.
5. How to make/brew Chinese oolong tea
As mentioned in How to Make Chinese Tea:
- Tea set: ceramic teapot is the best.
- The ratio of tea leaves to water: 1:20-30. For example, 5g oolong tea leaves:100-150ml water.
- The temperature of the water: 100℃ is best, otherwise the flavor and fragrance of oolong tea will not come out thoroughly.
The above standards are not absolute. It should be based on tea varieties.
6. Precautions of drinking Chinese oolong tea
- Should not drink oolong tea on an empty stomach, otherwise, you may feel dizzy.
- Should not drink oolong tea before going to bed, otherwise, you may not fall asleep easily, because oolong tea can refresh you.
- Should not drink cold oolong tea. It is not good for the stomach.
- Pregnant women and lactating women should not drink oolong tea. Tea polyphenols, caffeine, etc., are not good for the growth of the fetus.