Loose Leaf Oolong Tea: The Process Of Fermentation

Oolong or Wu Long means "Black Dragon". Oolongs are half-fermented (or semi-oxidized) teas that are in the specialty tea family. Half-fermented because the processing of Oolong tea requires only a partial fermentation (oxidation) of the leaves. Oolongs occupy an intermediate position between non-fermented green teas and fully fermented black teas and are the most diverse and interesting loose leaf teas. Oolongs can have varying degrees of oxidation that ranges somewhere between 10-35% in classic Chinese Oolongs to 60-70% in classic Taiwanese (Formosa) Oolongs. Oolong specialty tea is often made from mature leaves, collected from older tea trees.

Processing Oolong is considered the art of tea, where the character of tea is created. Tea masters participate in Oolong tea processing competitions to demonstrate their professional skills at this fine art.

Let’s take a look at Oolong manufacturing process.

There are no standard recipes on how to manufacture oolong tea; it is up to the discretion of each tea garden or tea master to decide on processing and the level of oxidation.
Immediately after gathering, the tea leaves are spread in a thin layer on special bamboo mats under direct sunlight for withering that will let most of water evaporate. The withering process time varies depending on the ambient temperature.
The next step of processing is very peculiar, withered leaves are placed in a large bamboo basket and put in a shady area. Approximately every hour, the tea leaves are shacked and gently tumbled in order to bruise the edges of the leaves to start an oxidation, at the same time avoiding breaking or crushing them. This procedure has to be done several times, until following effect will be reached: bruised up edges of the leaves due to the fermentation become brown blush (like 'rusty'), while veins and parts of the leaves should remain green.

Once the desired level of fermentation is reached, the oxidation process should be stopped immediately. This is achieved through the heat drying phase of raw materials in scorching air called "panning". The pan roasting of the leaves requires extensive experience in Oolong tea processing.

Most Oolongs are dried in two stages: first is partially, primary drying and rolling of tea leaves, then a final finish drying. Some highly fermented Oolongs undergo an additional stage of wetting and softening.

The partially drying process is carried out manually. This stage is necessary to stop the fermentation. Partially drying can be done in 2-4 steps, when the raw material is taken out of the oven, quickly cooled, then rolled. Then again dried in the oven, rapidly cooled, then rolled again, and so on. Afterwards, the leaves go through a final drying phase, ending oxidation and often followed by baking (roasting). Several kinds of Oolong are not rolled just dried after panning. With such a "multistage" technology, taste and degree of fermentation of Oolongs differentiate. Although, manufacturing Oolong is very intensive and meticulous process, unique aroma and flavor profile of this specialty tea makes this tea worth the trouble.

Good quality Oolongs are only loose leaf teas, not tea bags!

The most widely known and actively exported Oolongs are Chinese (Fujian and Yunnan) and Taiwanese (Formosa). Among the most well-known are Formosa Oolongs. Grown and manufactured in Taiwan, named after the province in which grown, these teas are considered the best in quality and affordability among Oolong the loose leaf tea family. Taiwanese Oolongs are often called "Champagne of Teas". Typically Taiwanese Oolongs are specifically labeled that indicates the quality of tea:

1. Fanciest or Extra Fancy
2. Fancy
3. Extra Choice or Extra Fine
4. Fine
5. Fully Superior
6. Superior
7. Good
8. Standard

Chinese Oolongs are famous for the fact that are used in a Chinese traditional procedure named Gongfu Cha and withstand up to 7 steepings.

Brewing Oolong is a very delicate process because it strongly depends on the type of oolong, more precisely, the degree of its fermentation. A lightly fermented Oolong is closest to the brewing of green tea with 190-195 degrees water and the brewing time 1-3 minutes. More fermented Oolong (such as Formosa) is brewing a little longer 4-5 min in hotter water 203-212. After brewing a quality Oolong has pronounced specific characteristics that cannot be mixed with any other kinds of tea.

 The best quality Oolongs expresses a strong and rich floral aroma and a remarkable peachy flavor with a honey-sweet aftertaste. Oolongs that closer in oxidation to black teas, have a nutty, toasted flavor. Color of brew is very diverse: from light yellow with green notes (like green tea) to a dark red. Oolong specialty teas contribute 2% of tea consumption of all the teas all over the world.

Enjoy a great cup of Oolong, happy drinking!

Properly Storing Loose Leaf Teas

Loose leaf tea is a delightful, delectable tea that is packed with health benefits for you. But protecting this tea, and keeping it fresh and delicious, involves storing it in a proper container. Heat, air, light, and moisture, are some elements that could potentially damage the tea or drain it of nutrients, so it’s important to keep the tea protected from these elements.

Loose leaf vs. tea bags
Sure, tea bags may seem to be convenient. But in the long run, they can be harmful to you. Tea bags are almost unrecognizable as tea anymore. The nutrients and antioxidants have been beaten out of it, resulting in little more than “tea dust.” The processing of these teas may also have left traces of harmful chemicals that will bring on inimical side effects. Loose leaf tea on the other hand is intact, with more antioxidants and nutrients, and more flavor. It is processed through simpler methods and allowed to retain its sweet, rich aromas and the taste is far superior to tea bags. When you brew loose leaf tea, the water has room to move around the leaves, which brings out the flavor.

Health benefits of loose leaf tea

Drinking tea every day yields many results that are beneficial to your health. It can help you to lose weight, help lower your cholesterol, prevent you from developing high blood pressure, prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve your dental health. Regular tea drinking may prevent you from developing cancer. It may also help improve your sleep, ward off headaches, improve your memory, improve cognitive functions such as learning, and help to prevent you from developing arthritis and types of dementia. Tea is just packed with an almost countless number of health benefits. Green tea has even been shown to lead to a longer life-span.

How to store tea
Tea of course should be stored at room temperature, and the best way to protect it from heat, moisture, and other elements is by keeping it in an airtight container. Tea can’t be sealed and put in a freezer, as this will damage it. Likewise it cannot be kept near a toaster, stove, or microwave or any other type of heat, as this will also damage the tea. If kept in a pretty, but not airtight container, the tea will lose its flavor fairly quickly.
Try not to use containers that are clear plastic or clear glass. This leaves the tea accessible to light which can damage it. Try to store tea away from any foods or spices that are strongly scented or flavored, as teas can easily absorb the flavor and aroma of the food around them.

Drink up
Don’t keep tea for too long, as over time, even in the best of storage containers, tea will lose its flavor and nutrients. Tea is meant to be consumed. And drinking a few cups of tea every day will help improve your health and has even been shown to lengthen your life. So brew some tea. You can even brew tea and refrigerate it to enjoy refreshing iced tea all week.

Does the Green Tea Diet Work?

With all the weight loss miracle claims, it’s hard to ascertain what actually works, and what’s actually good for you. There are many fad diets and crash diets that make wondrous and difficult to believe claims, but many of these are incredibly unhealthy, damaging, and can wreak havoc on your body, and cause far more harm than good. Diet pills and diets that exclude food groups are advertised all the time these days. The truth is that there is no miracle cure, but adding green tea to a healthy diet and exercise plan may help you to lose weight.

Weight loss effects
Being at a healthy weight is about more than just social acceptance. It can lead to significant health improvements, such as a lower cholesterol, and put you at a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and a variety of other ailments.
The “secret” is that green tea contains a chemical called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which may be beneficial in helping you lose weight. This is just one of many nutrients and antioxidants that green tea contains that have a beneficial effect on your health and your weight loss adventures.

What green tea is and does
Loose leaf green tea comes from the same plant as white, black, and oolong tea. It’s a plant called camellia sinensis which is grown in many countries all over the world. The difference between these types of teas is all in the processing. Green tea is a little more oxidated than white tea, and unlike the fermentation process of black tea, is produced by steaming fresh leaves. In this way, the process yields a higher content of certain types of beneficial nutrients and compounds. Due to this process, loose leaf green tea has a higher content of polyphenols than does black tea, or oolong tea.
Green tea has many healthful effects, including a boost in your metabolism which will lead to burning off calories at a quicker rate. Green tea has also been shown to help improve your energy, which leaves you with more energy for daily exercise. It may also burn off fat, making it easier to see those pounds start dropping.
The EGCG polyphenol that occurs naturally in this tea will make it easier to burn off more calories throughout the day. It has a stronger effect than other natural compounds to increase thermogenesis, which leads to a higher amount of calories burned off at the end of the day.
While all of these are shown in various studies, the truth is that there is no miracle weight loss cure. There is no answer that will instantaneously slim your waist. Weight loss is a journey, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It needs to include a well balanced, healthy diet, and daily exercise. But adding loose leaf green tea to your daily routine can help you in this process. Drinking green tea can only be helpful, as it has a myriad of other nutrients and antioxidants that will lead to health improvements in many areas.
It can’t hurt to give green tea a try. It’s healthy and tasty. Drink up and enjoy!

A Guide to Premium Teas

Tea is delicious and healthful, but there are so many different kinds it can be difficult to navigate through them to choose the right tea for you. Teas have thousands of different varieties and flavors, and the health benefits vary also among the types of teas.


Most teas today are blends, because pure tea is rarely ever the same. Oolong tea, for example, will vary from being very close to a black tea, to being very similar to green tea, depending on how long the leaves are left to oxidize. Teas will also vary depending on the weather, climate, where they were grown, altitudes, and so on. There are many factors that can change the flavor of a tea.

Why Blends?

Most teas that are widely available in grocery stores and online stores today are tea blends. A common reason to blend tea is to blend higher with lower quality to price the tea at the higher quality level. But the other main reason to blend teas is to create a new, consistent flavor.

Where Tea Comes From

All teas come from the Camellia sinesis plant, which may be surprising considering that there are thousands of varieties of teas. But depending on where the plant is growing, the altitude, weather, climate, and so on, the plant is affected differently. The processing of the tea leaves also affects the variety and flavor of the tea. The tea plants today are grown to about three feet and then harvested; though in the distant past tea plants would grow to be much, much taller. After the tea leaves are processed they are kept protected from air and sunlight so that they maintain their flavor and aroma.

Tea is produced by over twenty-five different countries in the world today, which of course include the main producers: India, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Nepal. There are four main types, or varieties, of tea, and they are: white, black, green, and oolong. But among these there are thousands of varieties. These teas all come from the same plant, surprisingly enough, but they vary based on the different climates and altitudes of where they were grown.

The Different Types

But among the four main types the differences depend also on the processing. Black tea is oxidized more than the other types and has a much higher level of caffeine. White tea is the least fermented of all the types. Green tea is sweet with an almost plant-like taste. Oolong varies between being more like black tea or more like green tea, depending on the process.

Green tea has many health benefits. It’s almost like magic. It helps with reducing inflammation, even with keeping teeth healthy. It can improve heart health and has been shown to help lower cholesterol. It can even help prevent or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It can help fight off diseases and help prevent cancer, and it can also help boost your energy and metabolism. Teas are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. It’s delicious and healthy. Drink up!

Black Tea May Lower Blood Sugar

Many teas have health benefits, and black tea has many such benefits. This tea, which has been used for thousands of years in China, has many positive effects on the body, including lowering blood sugar.

Black Tea and Diabetes
Black tea is known to improve the health of the heart and to improve the immune system. Recent research also indicates that black tea can lower blood sugar. This would help people who suffer from diabetes. Research studies have found a substance in black tea that works in the same way that prescription medication which is used to control blood sugar levels work. These medications are used in patients with type 2 diabetes, and a substance that works in the same way is in black tea. This naturally occurring substance is found in higher levels in this type of tea than in others such as green tea.

How Does it Work?
The polysaccharides found in black tea help to inhibit an enzyme which changes starches to sugars. This decreases blood sugar levels, and this is the same process the prescription drugs use. Polysaccharides help to stop the absorption of sugar, and research has pointed out in the past that this might help people who have diabetes. Black tea also is shown to possibly help prevent cancer and other diseases.

So Can You Drink Black Tea in Place of an Oral Diabetic Medication?
No. Talk to your doctor before ever making a change in your treatment. These studies are not clear whether drinking the tea would be enough for treating diabetes. The study extracted the polysaccharides from the teas using chemical methods, which is not the way you brew tea at home.

Why is the Tea Black?
Traditional teas actually come from the same plant. The difference in color is due to the amount of processing. The black interacted with oxygen until the leaves darkened, in a process called oxidation. The process of the black variety only involves the tea leaves and oxygen. There’s no yeast or fermenting involved in this tea making process.

Black Tea has a Higher Level of Caffeine

This method does, however, leave much higher caffeine content in the tea. Black tea has a much higher level compared to other teas, including green and white teas. A cup of black tea has just about 50% less milligrams of caffeine in it than coffee has. A cup of black tea is used in many parts of the world instead of coffee in the mornings.

Where Can I Buy Black Tea?
Black teas are available at most grocery stores. Organic brands are becoming more readily available in stores, or they can be purchased online or at local health food stores. It may be available as a single tea packet, or in a blend. There are many different brands, and the choices can be a little overwhelming. Try a few different brands and types. Find the flavor you most enjoy. Brew the leaves in a pot-bellied teapot for the most delectable experience of the drink.
And drink up the deliciousness, and know that’s good for you too! The benefits of this drink are many, and it perhaps could lead, with more research and study, to another breakthrough for helping to lower blood sugar.