Process – Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized style of tea that offers depth and complexity with a diverse flavor profile. One of the main factors determining an Oolong’s final flavor and style, is the level of oxidation that the leaf goes through. They are typically oxidized to a level anywhere between 10 to 80 percent. Oolong processing techniques are equally as diverse and vary widely depending on the region in which tea is being produced. Once bruised and oxidized the leaf goes through a fixation process to stop the oxidation. This is then followed by multiple methods of rolling, shaping and drying, sometimes with the steps being repeated. Some oolongs are also roasted. The finishing techniques used will ultimately determine the leaf shape and contribute to the flavor of the finished tea.
Flavor Profile –Lighter oxidized Oolongs tend to produces a rich tea with floral and honey notes. Heavier oxidized Oolongs are medium to full bodied. Floral and fruit notes dominate, with complex hints of minerality and caramelized sweetness. Roasting also adds to the flavor.
Regions – The best Oolongs still come from China and Taiwan, although other countries like India and Nepal have started producing some great Oolongs. Recently, there has been a push to preserve the use of the name “Oolong” only for semi-oxidized teas that come from China or Taiwan, while using “Semi-Oxidized” for any other country or region.
- Oolong Teas to look for:
- Phoenix Oolong Fenghuang Oolong (China)
- Iron Goddess of Mercy, Tieguanyin(China)
- Big Red Robe, Da Hong Pao (China)
- Baozhong (Taiwan)
- Oriental Beauty, Bai Hao (Taiwan)
- Da Yu Ling (Taiwan)
- Nepalese Hand Rolled (Nepal)