Oolong – The Tea With the Mysterious Name

Tea is a fascinating little product. A good part of the mystique that surrounds wu long, or oolong, as it is more commonly known, is due to its classical origins in the Far East. The Chinese have named it “black dragon tea”, from which we get the English word “oolong”, but the actual origin of the name is lost in history. Some suspect that it was the name of the person who first produced oolong tea, others believe it is named from the region where it was originally grown, and still others maintain that the shape of the dried tea leaves resemble little black dragons. Wherever the name came from, it’s still a wonderful little tea. Want to know more about oolong? Read on!

The middle child

Oolong tea is classified as a semi-oxidized tea, which means that in terms of taste and color, it lies in between green tea, which is oxidized very little, and black tea, which is fully oxidized. Oolong tea is also notable in that the leaves are intentionally abused a little after they are left to air-dry, in order to bruise the leaves. This has the effect of speeding up the oxidization process in the leaf, allowing the leaf to develop distinct aroma and flavors that are not attainable through standard processing methods. The bruising of the leaves also allows more moisture to be drawn out of the stem and back into the leaves so that the remain supple for the shaping process which takes place once the leaves have been fully dried and the oxidization process halted. The result is a unique tea that shares some of the qualities of black tea, as well as some of the earthy tones and aromas of green tea. It’s quite a match, to be sure.

Oolong – a real showoff

The unique qualities of oolong tea lend themselves quite nicely to formal tea ceremonies, especially the classic Chinese gungfu, or fujian tea ceremony. Gungfucha, as it is known, follows a fairly formal set of steps to present, prepare, brew, and serve the tea in a beautiful ritual that is said to bring out the highest qualities of the tea and allow all of the senses to appreciate the beverage. If you haven’t ever had the opportunity to view a gungfu tea ceremony, we highly recommend it. You’ll come to view tea in a whole new light.

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