Loose Leaf Oolong Tea: The Process Of Fermentation

by Elena Popec 24. September 2010 12:39

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!

Herbal Tea Blend Featured at World Tea Expo 2010 Now Available at ESPemporium.com

by Steven Popec 20. July 2010 07:13

Lomi-Lomi loose herbal tea blend features tropical flavor, aloe blossoms in the new product category at the World Tea Expo

Online tea shop ESP Emporium has announced the arrival of a new flavor of loose leaf tea, a recently released herbal blend that features tropical flavors including papaya, banana and pineapple.

“Our Lomi-Lomi herbal tea blend has a distinctly tropical aroma and taste, balanced with fruits that complement it perfectly” said Elena Popec, co-founder of ESP Emporium. “It’s a delicate but fragrant tea blend that makes the perfect summer drink, served hot or cold.”

“Of all of our specialty teas, the Lomi-Lomi blend is one of our more adventurous flavors” said Popec. “It combines delicious fruits with herbal ingredients that come together nicely to create a memorable and enjoyable cup of tea”.
The Lomi-Lomi (Aloe Vera) Blend is currently eligible for free shipping on orders over $25 (USD), available for purchase online in a variety of sizes:

50 Grams (1.76oz) Price: $7.50 (USD)   
100 Grams (3.53oz) Price: $13.95 (USD)
250 Grams (8.82oz) Price: $32.95 (USD)
500 Grams (17.64oz) Price: $61.95 (USD)

The Aloe Vera herbal tea blend is packaged as a loose tea that can be served hot or cold after brewing at 203° - 212° F for 5-10 minutes, and features the following ingredients:

Apple pieces, stinging nettle and strawberry leaves, pineapple cubes (pineapple, sugar), lemon grass, freeze-dried banana pieces, hibiscus blossoms, papaya cubes (papaya, sugar), rose petals, flavoring, Roman chamomile, rose and mallow blossoms. Serving Size: 1 level tsp (6oz) serving

About ESP Emporium: The ESP Tea Emporium is an American-based, online tea shop located in the Midwestern US, which specializes in premium loose teas and tea-related accessories.
 
For more information about this announcement please visit ESP Emporium online (http://www.espemporium.com), or contact Steve Popec at 1-866-810-1818.

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ESP Emporium Promotion Offers Facebook Fans a Chance to Win Specialty Teas, as Well As Future Loyalty Rewards Eligibility

by Steven Popec 24. February 2010 15:39

New Promotion Encourages Customers to Become Fans of ESP Emporium on Facebook, Offers Fans a Chance to Win a Three-Month “Tea of the Month” Package

Chicago, IL – February 23, 2010ESP Emporium, purveyors of specialty and loose leaf teas have announced a new, limited time Facebook promotion that encourages friends and customers to join their social fan base.

Loose Leaf Tea

The promotion, which begins on March 1, 2010, offers Facebook users who become fans of ESP Emporium a chance to win a three-month membership to their very popular “Tea of the Month” club; each month, for three months, winners will receive 50 grams of two different varieties of specialty tea – (a total of 100 grams of tea).
 
“Tea is a very ‘social’ experience that is very much a part of North American cultures - much like the different types of social networks that have become so popular in recent years” said Steve Popec, co-owner of ESP Emporium. “Our customers must be noticing a trend at this point, with our Twitter promotion last month, and now an incentive to follow us on Facebook. We pride ourselves on offering specialty teas and products that reflect and complement the social aspects of our cultures, both internationally and within North America, and want to expand the social nature of our relationship with our customers”.


“Much of our decision to launch this promotion is based on the overwhelming interest we’ve seen in our ‘Send A Cup Of Tea’ application, which embraces the social elements of both Facebook and the variety of tea we offer, by allowing users to pass along a virtual cup of tea to their friends and family” said Popec. “Many of the promotions we’ll be running in the very near future will further involve Facebook, as it’s an easy way for us to reach out to our customers and fans, to foster the community that we feel our products have created”.

The Facebook Tea of the Month contest is limited to residents of the United States, and only the first 25,000 entrants/fans will be eligible. Current Facebook users who became “fans” of ESP Emporium’s Facebook page prior to the launch of the Tea of the Month contest will also be eligible to win. Winners will be drawn at random, each time a 5,000-fan milestone is reached. Once 25,000 entrants have become fans, monthly draws will be held until August, 31, 2010.

For more information about this announcement, please visit www.ESPemporium.com, or contact Steve Popec at 1-866-810-1818.

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About ESP Emporium
ESP Emporium is a flourishing tea company offering an assortment of premium loose teas and tea-related accessories in the USA. Grown globally, their tea selection includes black teas, green teas, half fermented teas, flavored teas, fruit tea blends, Rooibos tea, herbal teas and more.
 
About the ‘Send a Cup of Tea’ Facebook Application
The ‘Send a Cup of Tea’ Application enables Facebook users to select from 30 different blends of tea, which virtually represent the loose tea and specialty teas offered by ESP Emporium, which can be sent to users listed on their (users) Facebook friends list.

Copyright 2010 © ESP Emporium.com. All rights reserved.

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