Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
The name Oolong tea came into the English language from the Chinese name meaning "black dragon tea". Oolong tea is produced from cultivars of Camellia Sinensis through a process including withering and oxidation before rolling in muslin bags to bring about curling and twisting of the leaves. Most Oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, are produced from unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of oxidation can range from 10% to 80% depending on the variety and production style. The lower oxidized Oolong teas are commonly referred to as green Oolongs because their appearance is somewhat greenish (example Ti Kwan Yin Oolong) and the more oxidized ones are called dark Oolongs because their appearance is dark, and close to black teas (example Wu Yi Oolong). Preparation of Oolong teas is customarily done with the Gongfu process using a Yixing tea pots or a Gaiwan. A glass tea pot works well too. The advantage of using glass is that you can see the leaves unfurl and sink to the bottom. Due to the nature of the rolling process where the leaves are twisted and curled but not broken, an attribute referred to as ‘whole leaf teas’, the brewing process can involve as much as 3-4 infusions from the same leaves. The term ‘multiple infusions’ refers to this aspect. The initial infusion is called a primer, where in actuality the leaves are washed for 10 – 20 seconds and primed for subsequent infusions. The liquid is drained out and not consumed. This removes any tea dust that may be present. The next infusion, which is the first, is about 3 minutes duration, sufficient time for the leaves to impart the flavor into the water. The liquid is consumed and more water is added for the second infusion. The procedure continues until there is no more flavors coming out of the leaves. Water temperature for Oolong teas should be around 190 degrees. The amount of tea should be 3 grams for 6 ounces water. The taste of Oolong teas vary amongst various sub-varieties. It can be sweet and fruity, thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas. The specific cultivars that are used and the processing techniques determine these results. The best Oolong teas are produced in the Fujian province of China and Taiwan.