Oolong tea is a delightful mix between green and black tea, and has often been called “blue-green tea.” It is harvested when the leaves are partially photosynthesized, anywhere between 10-70%. Thus it generally has a darker, richer flavor than green tea, but a lighter flavor than black tea. It is a familiar taste to anyone who frequents Chinese restaurants, as it is the most frequent tea choice served along with meals.
Oolong tea comes in various grades, and is often considered the most desirable of Chinese teas. Some oolong tea is served after being dried and packaged. Other variants are aged, producing complex flavors and greater expense to the consumer. Most varieties of oolong are roasted after air-drying. They then go through a further drying process before being packaged.
In loose form, oolong looks like little green balls. The term oolong, taken from the Chinese word Wulan means dragon. Some say that the balls of oolong tea unfold like dragons exposed to heat.
Oolong tea prospers best in mountainous regions with relatively harsh climates. Primarily, oolong is grown in China on Wu-Yi mountain. In the south Fujian province, Tie Guan Yin, is also quite popular. On Wu-Yi, Da Hong Pao, is one of the most popular Chinese teas ever.
Since the 1800s Taiwan has also produced numerous excellent oolong teas. These include Dong Ding and Pouchong. Dong Ding is extremely fragrant and will entice any lover of tea. But one enjoys it at a price. 21 ounces (595.33g) of the tea can cost up to 100 US dollars (USD). One can also buy oolong grown in India and in Vietnam. Darjeeling oolong from India is highly prized.
Tea lovers tend to be fans of numerous varieties of oolong. Most attest that it is not merely the taste but also the fragrance of oolong tea, which lends such appeal to the tea. Taste varies with different varieties. Many attribute a strong initially bitter taste and a sweet, melon-like finish to oolong. Oolong tea is thought to be so fragrant because the leaves are harvested when the essential oils of the tea are most present and strong. Others enjoy oolong tea because the roasting process seems to make the tea rather gentle on the stomach.
In China, oolong tea was often part of traditional medicine for curing digestive problems. It has also been thought to be of help in headaches. The benefits of green and black tea in modern medicine are their presence of antioxidants, which may prove helpful in reducing the effects of aging and in fighting cancer.
Article by: Wisegeek.com