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An Introduction to Oolong Tea

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An Introduction to Oolong Tea
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An Introduction to Oolong Tea

Though not as well known around the world as it is in China, where it's been grown for more than a thousand years, oolong tea is prized by serious tea lovers. Complex and beautiful, it pleases those who also enjoy black and green tea since it's produced from similarly mature tea leaves, imparting a range of complex flavors.

Loose leaf tea canister of Strawberry Hibiscus tea with strawberries and loose leaf tea in a bowl

WHAT IS OOLONG TEA?

Generally speaking, there are five types of tea: black, green, white, oolong, and herbal. Herbal teas are sometimes referred to as "tisanes" since they aren't made from the camellia sinensis leaves, used to produce all the other types of tea. For the rest, including oolong, tea leaves from different parts of the camellia sinensis plant are harvested and processed in a slightly different way to render each type of tea.

Oolong is produced using the plant's most mature tea leaves—the same end of the spectrum from which green and black tea blends are made. What sets it apart is the oxidation process, more processing than green tea, but less than black tea, and the fact that it's semi-fermented. Depending on a handful of variables, from the timing of its harvesting to the botanical ingredients it's blended with, oolong's flavors and fragrances range from lush and sweet to deep and woody. This tea type is rich and nuanced in all its forms, enjoyed for its gentle complexity, moderate caffeine content, and abundance of antioxidants.


WHERE DOES OOLONG COME FROM?

Most experts believe oolong tea originated between the seventh and tenth centuries under China's Tang Dynasty. Several theories exist about its precise origins, but most historians agree on its Fujian provenance. Today, Anxi County and the Wuyi Mountains serve as major production centers from which oolong is exported around the world. It's also enjoyed locally in China's Guangdon province, from which it's rarely exported.

HOW TO MAKE OOLONG TEA AT HOME

Given its richness and relative difficulty to source, oolong is considered by many to be a connoisseur's drink. It's prepared at a similar water temperature as some green teas (195˚ F degrees, not quite boiling) and a similar steeping time as black tea (approximately five minutes). This precise combination of time and temperature coaxes out the fullest expression of its flavor. The oolong tea variety is best enjoyed without any accompaniments.

Whether you're new to oolong or searching for the perfect blend to expand your collection, Tea Forté offers a trio of gorgeous oolongs, from the fruity, floral Strawberry Hibiscus of the Jardin Collection, the deep, peachy Mountain Oolong of the Lotus Collection, to the toasted caramel notes of Oolong Créme, found only within Tea Forté's exclusive Frank Lloyd Wright Collection.

Man stteping a cup of oolong loose leaf tea in a glass mug

To try for yourself, explore Tea Forté's thoughtfully-curated oolong tea blends here.

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