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Oolong tea (乌龙茶)

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Oolong (simplified Chinese: 乌龙; traditional Chinese: 烏龍; pinyin: wūlóng) is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Most oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, involve unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of fermentation can range from 8% to 85%, depending on the variety and production style. This tea category is especially popular with tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, as is the tea preparation process that originated from this area: gongfu tea-making, or the gongfu tea infusion approach.

In Chinese tea culture, semi-oxidised oolong teas are collectively grouped as qīngchá (Chinese: 青茶; literally "blue-green tea"). The taste of oolong ranges hugely amongst various subvarieties. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, or woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas, all depending on the horticulture and style of production. Several subvarieties of oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian and in the central mountains of Taiwan, are among the most famous Chinese teas.

Different varieties of oolong are processed differently, but the leaves are formed into one of two distinct styles. Some are rolled into long curly leaves, while others are 'wrap-curled' into small beads, each with a tail. The former style is the more traditional of the two.

The name oolong tea came into the English language from the Chinese name (Chinese: 烏龍茶), meaning "black dragon tea".

Brewing


Generally, 2.25 grams of tea per 170 ml of water, or about two teaspoons of oolong tea per cup, should be used. Oolong teas should be prepared with 180 to 190 °F (82 to 88 °C) water (not boiling) and steeped 3–4 minutes. High quality oolong can be brewed several times from the same leaves and, unlike other teas, it improves with rebrewing: it is common to brew the same leaves three to five times, the third or fourth steeping usually being considered the best.

A widely-used ceremonial method of brewing oolongs in Taiwan and China is called gongfucha. This method uses a small brewing vessel, such as a gaiwan or Yixing clay teapot, with more tea than usual for the amount of water used. Multiple short steeps of 20 seconds to 1 minute are performed; the tea is often served in one- to two-ounce tasting cups.

Health effects


Oolong tea has numerous health benefits and the most well known is its effect on the prevention of obesity and active contribution in weight loss. It also assists in prolonging and improving vitality and life span, reducing high blood pressure, strengthening teeth and prevent tooth decay, relieving physical and mental stress, treating skin problems such as eczema and rashes, etc.

Though the caffeine content in a given brew of tea may vary based on the brewing method, variety of tea, and number of extractions, Oolong tea in general contains caffeine, albeit less than either black tea or green tea.

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References

Oolong, en.wikipedia.org

Oolong Tea for Weight Loss, oolong-tea-benefits.com

Oolong Tea Info, www.teavana.com