Oolong tea (烏龍) (also known as ulung, wulong) is a variation of partially fermented (oxidized) Chinese tea known throughout the world for its sweet taste and floral aroma. Its name from Chinese can be translated as "Black Dragon tea". The taste of oolong tea can be various - sweet and fruity with a honey aroma, woody, or fresh with a whole bouquet of scents.
What exactly does the oxidation of this type of tea mean? Just as an apple left for oxygen exposure takes on a brown color, such tea leaves go through the same process when they have contact with oxygen. Green tea remains green because its leaves are not oxidized. Black tea has a black color because it is fully oxidized. Oolong tea is somewhere between those two. The degree of oxidation varies between 8 and 75% and depends on the production method. It is produced on a large scale in China and Taiwan.
The origin of this tea is not exactly known. Difficulties in learning its history are due to the fact that there are three hypotheses about its origins. All three, however, have a common denominator - they concern the Fujian region (福建). The first story tells us that oolong tea was a luxury good of China, cultivated and produced especially for great rulers.
According to legend, it was discovered in the 10th century in the Northern Song Dynasty. Song Lords ordered to create a beautiful tea garden as a tribute to the Beiyuan family staying in the province of Fujian. This garden occupies a unique place in the history of China, where it existed for 458 years. Beiyuan's tribute concerned two types of tea - Dragon and Phoenix. Meanwhile, the Ming dynasty cultivated the production of tea in a compressed form of the disc. The Beiyuan family decided to change it. Their tea was produced as loose, glossy, black powder. This is how the Black Dragon tea was created.
The second version of the story of oolong tea concerns the Wuyi Mountain (武夷山). According to this theory, oolong was invented on the Wuyi Mountain in the province of Fujian in the sixteenth century during the reign of the Ming dynasty. This story is described by the "Tea Story" by a man named Wang Chaotang. We can learn from it that the oolong tea was first left in the sun in a bamboo basket, after that it was dried and baked and it owes its name to the Wuyi Mountain, where it was produced for the very first time.
The third, but the least probable, almost mythical hypothesis concerns the Anxi court and the hunter, called The Dragon. His dark skin caused people to call him the Black Dragon. The legend says that when one day he was on a hunt, a beast appeared to his eyes. Not thinking much, he started chasing the monster, forgetting about the tea in his bag. After a long time, the tea leaves left in the sun were partially oxidized. It turned out that the tea gained an intense smell thanks to it. People decided to call it “the Black Dragon" in honor of the staring hunter.
Like most teas produced on a large scale in China, oolong tea has a number of beneficial properties, which further attracts consumers and encourages them to buying it. Drinking it regularly supports the slimming process by accelerating the fat burning process, regulates metabolism and prevents kidney failure and all skin changes. It also supports the work of the heart by reducing triglycerides and cholesterol. Moreover, oolong tea infusion is recommended for people suffering from eczema, diabetes and hypertension. Two other advantages of oolong tea are also worth mentioning. It contains less caffeine than green and black tea and has a variety of wonderful, strong aromas and flavors, which rich selection will satisfy even the most demanding gourmet. However, it should be remembered that in order for tea leaves to release all their medicinal properties, it should be brewed in an appropriate manner. Usually, two teaspoons of tea should be poured into the cup, the water should not boil, and the brewing itself should last from 1-5 minutes.
Oolong tea is divided into hundreds of different types. The leaves ripen in different places and are also used for production in various ways. Nowadays, tea is produced in the Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. Tea from Taiwan is also appreciated. In the Fujian region, the most popular and most expensive teas are called Wuyi. These include Dà Hóng Páo (大 红袍) (Big Red Robe), Ròu Guì (肉桂) (Cinnamon), with a very expressive, spicy aroma or Tiì Luó Hàn (鉄 羅漢) (Iron Monk). In Guangdong province, the most popular tea is Dān Cōng (单 丛). This tea has striped shape and has a bouquet of floral and fruit aromas such as the fragrance of orange blossom, grapefruit, almond and orchid.