About Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
Loose leaf oolong tea is a type of semi-oxidized tea, positioned between loose leaf green tea and loose leaf black tea, highly esteemed for its unique processing techniques. The primary production processes of loose leaf oolong tea include withering, shaking or rolling, fixation, rolling, and baking.
The leaves of loose leaf oolong tea come in various shapes, such as ball-shaped or strip-shaped. Different regions where loose leaf oolong tea is produced, such as Fujian, Guangdong, Taiwan, etc., endow the tea leaves with unique flavors and aromas due to their distinctive local conditions and traditional craftsmanship. This makes loose leaf oolong tea a favored variety among tea enthusiasts. With a wide variety of oolong tea types available, it is recommended to explore one's preferences by purchasing tea sampler.
The History of Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
Loose leaf oolong tea originated in Fujian and has a history of over 1000 years.
The formation and development of loose leaf oolong tea can be traced back to Beiyuan tea. Beiyuan tea is the earliest tribute tea in Fujian and became the most famous tea after the Song Dynasty. There are more than ten historical works introducing the production and brewing of Beiyuan tea. Beiyuan is an area around Fenghuang Mountain in Jianou, Fujian, and tea production in this region dates back to the end of the Tang Dynasty.
The Aroma of Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
Loose leaf oolong tea is renowned for its aroma. Currently, over 700 aromatic compounds have been discovered in tea leaves, with loose leaf oolong tea containing more than 300, surpassing other types of tea. The captivating aroma of oolong tea is one of the reasons why it is considered one of the best loose leaf tea.
The unique processing technique known as "Zuoqing (s)shaking or rolling" is exclusive to loose leaf oolong tea and is a key factor in shaping the quality and style of oolong tea. The distinctive aroma of loose leaf oolong tea is developed during this process, leading to the saying among tea farmers, "stirring rivers and overturning seas produces oolong tea."
The aroma of loose leaf oolong tea can be broadly categorized into floral, fruity, honey, charcoal, clear, and orchid fragrances, among others. There are also numerous unique subtypes when further refined. When selecting loose leaf oolong tea, one can choose based on their preferred aroma profiles.
Choosing Oolong Tea Based on Production Regions
Loose leaf oolong tea primarily comes from four production regions: Minnan, Minbei, Guangdong, and Taiwan. Each region has several representative varieties of loose leaf oolong tea.
1. Minnan Oolong
Minnan, located in the southern part of Fujian Province, is one of the birthplaces of loose leaf oolong tea. The fertile soil and rich plant diversity make it an excellent region for producing high-quality loose leaf oolong tea. Anxi TieGuanyin tea is noteworthy, known for its rich floral aroma, unique taste, and lingering aftertaste.
2. Minbei Oolong
Minbei, situated in the northern part of Fujian Province, is characterized by its "rock charm," with Da Hong Pao being a representative of Northern Fujian oolong. The tea trees grow among rocks on the mountains, and the oolong tea produced is known as "rock tea."
3. Guangdong Oolong
Guangdong oolong is renowned for its elegant appearance, fragrant aroma, and smooth texture. The "mountain charm" is a distinctive feature of Guangdong oolong, with Fenghuang Dancong being a representative tea.
4. Taiwanese Oolong
Tea gardens in Taiwan are generally located at elevations exceeding 1200 meters, with a cool climate and abundant rainfall, providing ideal conditions for tea tree growth. In terms of processing, Taiwan emphasizes manual craftsmanship, resulting in a delicate taste and limited but high-quality production. Representative varieties of Taiwanese oolong include Dong Ding Oolong and Fenghuang Dancong.
Introduction to Famous Oolong Teas
TieGuanyin originates from Anxi, Fujian, and is one of China's top ten famous teas. The tea leaves of TieGuanyin are tightly rolled, displaying a sandy green color. It has a rich and enduring aroma, with a mellow and sweet taste.
2. Da Hong Pao
Da Hong Pao comes from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian and is acclaimed as the "King of Teas." The tea leaves are tightly rolled and evenly structured, showcasing a green-brown and lustrous appearance. Da Hong Pao has a lasting and fragrant aroma, with a mellow and sweet taste.
3. Fenghuang Dancong
Fenghuang Dancong is produced in Fenghuang Mountain, Chaozhou, Guangdong, and is known for its unique mountain charm and floral fragrance. The tea leaves are robust, tightly rolled, and have a yellow-brown and oily luster. It has a clear and long-lasting aroma, with a fresh and sweet aftertaste.
4. Dong Ding Oolong
Dong Ding Oolong is from Dong Ding Mountain in Taiwan and is considered a representative of Taiwanese oolong tea. The tightly rolled tea leaves are curled, displaying a dark green and oily appearance. It has a clear and elegant aroma that lasts, with a mellow and sweet taste.
5. Jin Xuan Oolong
Jin Xuan Oolong is produced in the Alishan region of Taiwan and has a unique milky and osmanthus fragrance. The tea leaves are tightly rolled and evenly structured, presenting a lively sandy green color. It has a strong and enduring aroma, with a fresh and sweet aftertaste.
6. Zhangping Shuixian
Zhangping Shuixian comes from Zhangping City, Fujian Province, and is the only pressed tea among oolong teas. It has a high and lingering aroma, featuring a natural floral fragrance reminiscent of orchids. The taste is mellow, refreshing, and refined.
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Brewing Method for Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
The right brewing method can enhance the enjoyment of loose leaf oolong tea. Here, we provide a relatively simple brewing method. If you wish to improve your brewing skills for loose leaf oolong tea, there are numerous detailed brewing videos available online for reference and learning.
1. Before brewing, it is advisable to rinse the tea utensils with boiling water to increase the temperature and cleanliness. Additionally, warming the utensils helps enhance the aroma and taste of loose leaf tea.
2. Place the tea leaves into a lidded bowl or teapot. The amount of tea leaves can be adjusted based on personal taste preferences and the quality of the tea, typically ranging from 5 to 10 grams.
3. Pour hot water (95-100°C) into the lidded bowl or teapot, trying to avoid pouring directly onto the tea leaves to prevent affecting the taste and quality of the tea.
4. Wait for about 10 seconds, then pour the tea liquor into a fairness cup. Subsequently, pour the tea from the fairness cup into a small cup, and it is ready to be enjoyed.
5. High-quality loose leaf oolong tea can be brewed multiple times, up to 7 or more infusions. The brewing time for subsequent infusions can be extended as desired.
Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
1. Refreshes the Mind and Enhances Thinking
Loose leaf oolong tea contains caffeine, which has the effect of stimulating the central nervous system and improving cognitive function. Regular consumption of loose leaf oolong tea can help boost alertness, alleviate irritability, and relieve fatigue. It is particularly suitable for individuals facing fatigue during work.
2. Weight Management
The tannic acid components in loose leaf oolong tea play a crucial role in metabolism, stimulating the activity of pancreatic lipase, reducing the absorption of carbohydrates and fats, and accelerating the body's calorie production. This promotes fat burning, leading to significant weight management effects.
3. Cancer Prevention
Research indicates that loose leaf oolong tea is rich in catechins, vitamins, and other components that can inhibit the synthesis of carcinogenic nitrosamines. This makes it beneficial for preventing cancer, providing a natural and healthful tea option.
Each variety of loose leaf oolong tea carries unique flavors and the essence of traditional craftsmanship, making it worth exploring and savoring. Whether one seeks a refreshing taste or a rich flavor, satisfaction can be found in the diverse selection of loose leaf oolong teas. Let's immerse ourselves in the world of oolong tea, appreciating its unique charm and enjoying the pleasure brought by the aroma of tea.