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Oolong tea is NOT just dried out plant leaves. It's picked, withered, rolled to bring oils to the surface, and allowed to partially oxidize (about 50%... some less perhaps as low as 35%, some more as high as 70%, depending on the type of Oolong) before being fired to dry. They are heated at a higher temp during firing so that they keep longer.
The oxidation variation for type of Oolong gives the wide range of tea and tea flavors in the Oolong category in addition to the variations from leaves of different regions.
Green tea is just picked, withered, fired, rolled and dried for final shape.
Black tea is picked, withered, rolled, allowed to oxidize fully, baked at temps up to about 200 degrees, and when about 80% dry may be finished over wood fires. It is sorted according to size after processing, larger being leaf grade and finer broken and dusty bits being used for bags.
The different ways of processing whole leaf teas account for the differences in their flavors, properties, and actions on the body.
I'm a HUGE Oolong fan!
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.
I don't have any study links... but Oolong has been fairly well connected to increased fat burning (no, nothing miraculous), lowering chlesterol, and anti-hyperglycemic effect in diabetics (lowering of blood glucose)...
OH, and it tastes freakin GREAT! That's why I drink it.
IMO, though it may SEEM expensive, seeking out whole leaf, high quality oolong is best.
Remember... each serving of leaves can be brewed 3-4 times in succession. And each successive cup will change in flavor profile slightly. I like to use an in cup tea strainer like Bodum's "Tea for One"... this allows me to have every single cup FRESH. The first brew is the shortest, second a little longer, etc. Also, Oolong shouldn't be brewed as hot as black tea... water should be about 190, and brewing time from about 5-9 minutes.
If you get into Oolongs go out on a limb and try some fermented Pu-Erh sometime! It smells weird/funky dry but makes a great cup!
Adding onto Cori's post about it being expensive, yes it is. A decent oolong will run you $60 a pound, but keep in mind that a pound of dried tea is a heck of a lot of tea. I bought a 1/4 pound and it's lasted me months.
Also, I would not recommend steeping any longer than 3 minutes. The flavor and color should not be as deep as black tea, the resulting brew should taste slightly sweet to the palate, and be light in color.
F 28/5'4/100 lbs
"I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."