Try a Cup of Oolong
On our journey through tea types, we now come to Oolong, which is probably the least familiar to casual tea drinkers. Oolong teas, known as partially or semi-oxidized teas, are traditionally manufactured in China and Taiwan. With exotic names like Ti Kuan Yin and Tung Ting, oolongs are among the most distinct and interesting of all the teas. Two very different methods of production are used to manufacture two different styles of oolong.
The first style is a darker, open-leafed tea with characteristics most similar to black tea. These oolongs are made by withering (drying) the leaves in the sun outdoors and then indoors on bamboo baskets. This allows some of the water in the leaf to evaporate, while shaking the leaves every two hours breaks the cells in the leaf and allows the oxidation process to occur. When the oxidation process reaches 70 percent, the leaves are heated to stop oxidation and then dried completely in hot ovens. If you recall, black teas are fully-oxidized to give them full body and a dark brew. These particular oolongs are stopped before they become a black tea, and have a paler amber color with soft fruity undertones. One of the more popular of the darker oolongs is Formosa, which is manufactured only in Taiwan (formally known as Formosa).
The manufacturing of the greener or “balled” oolongs begins with the same drying and shaking process, however the oxidation is halted at 30 percent by heating the leaves. The leaves are left to rest overnight and then wrapped inside large cloths to form balls. Each bag is tightened then rolled in a special machine to bruise and squeeze the leaves. When the bag is opened, each leaf is separated and then rolled into a ball once more. This process is repeated at least 36 times and sometimes up to 60 times until each leaf is tightly rolled into a tiny green pellet. These oolongs brew a pale amber green and have a subtly floral flavor. Because of the lengthy process, these oolongs can be very expensive. They are closest in characteristic to green teas, which are not oxidized at all.
The next time you are feeling adventurous, try a cup of oolong. They have more antioxidants than black tea, and you will find that each one has a very distinct flavor. Both Gypsy’s Tearoom and our newest location, CUP Tea Bar & Café, offer the oolongs mentioned above as well as numerous other types and flavors of tea. Check out upcoming events for both locations on Facebook or on our websites: Gypsystearoom.com and Cupteabar.com
Additional posts by Lora Andrews
- The Story Behind Chai, 05 Apr 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Drink Tea for a Healthy Heart, 05 Feb 2013 in Feature&Wine & Dine
- Take Time for Tea, 06 Dec 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Herbal Teas as Remedies, 13 Aug 2012 in Wine & Dine
- White Tea, 11 Apr 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Green Tea, 02 Feb 2012 in Health & Wellness&Wine & Dine
- What’s in Your Cup?, 04 Aug 2011 in Health & Wellness