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The Complete Guide to Oolong Teas

When it comes to "tea," most people typically think of herbal, black, or green varieties. However, there's another type worth exploring: oolong teas. Unlike herbal teas that don't contain Camellia sinensis or green teas that undergo specific processing methods, oolong teas have their own unique characteristics that set them apart from black tea.

What is an Oolong Tea?

The word oolong loosely translates to "dragon." Take one look at an oolong like Wuyi Oolong and you'll understand why. Oolong teas come in different shapes, colors, and flavors, and and can vary drastically from one another. With so much variety, it isn't difficult to find an oolong you love.

What is oxidation in Oolong Tea and how does Oolong Tea vary from Black Tea?

To understand oolongs and black teas, it's important to grasp the concept of oxidation. Think about taking a bite of an apple and leaving it on your kitchen table for a few hours. Depending on the climate in your area, different changes will occur. In a humid place like Florida, the apple will turn brown, become soggy, and lose its texture. In a drier region like Texas or Southern California, the apple will shrink slightly, dry out, and develop a thin film on the exposed parts. These changes are forms of oxidation, where the apple is exposed to the air.

Similarly, tea leaves undergo oxidation when exposed to the air. Oolong teas are only partially oxidized, meaning they are exposed to the air for a shorter duration. On the other hand, black teas are fully oxidized. Even if an oolong tea is oxidized up to 99%, it's still considered an oolong. The degree of oxidation determines the color of the tea, with green oolongs like Orchid Oolong being less oxidized than darker oolongs like Crimson Oolong.

How long to steep Oolong Tea? 

Most Oolong teas are best prepared at a water temperature of 185°F - 206° F, with a steep time of approximately  3-5 minutes. It should be noted, however, that these suggested temperatures may vary depending on the specific type of Oolong that you will be brewing. Additionally, Oolong teas can be re-steeped multiple times, and Oolongs will actually improve and transform with each re-steeping. We’ve found that often, the 4th or 5th steeping is the best! 

Does Oolong Tea have caffeine?

Yes, because Oolong Tea is a “true tea,” meaning that it is derived from the Camellia Sinesis plant, it does contain caffeine. That said, the caffeine content in an oolong tea can vary and generally falls somewhere between a black and green tea, depending on how long it has been oxidized. Oolong teas that have lower oxidation levels typically have lower caffeine levels, while a highly oxidized oolong will have higher caffeine levels.

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