What is Oolong Tea Taste Like?
Oolong tea is neither a black tea nor a green tea; it is classified…
…as a distinct type of tea. However, depending on the route the tea master chooses in the processing of the tea, an oolong may end up with more black tea qualities or more green tea characteristics. Oxidation: During processing, black tea is allowed to fully oxidize, giving the tea leaves their dark color and deep malty aroma. Green tea is slightly oxidized, so the leaves retain some of their natural green leaf color and flavor.
Oolong tea lies somewhere in the middle and is commonly referred to as a partly oxidized tea. However, oxidation levels in oolong can range from 8% to 80% depending on the tea master’s manufacturing technique. As a result, the flavor profile of some oolongs may be more akin to fresh green tea (less oxidized) and others to malty black tea (more oxidized). What is the primary distinction between oolong tea and black or green tea? Shape and oxidation
Oolong tea is not a black tea or a green tea; it is a separate variety of tea. However, this beverage is depending on the route, the tea master takes in the processing of the tea, an oolong may end up with more black tea attributes or more green tea characteristics. Oxidation: During processing, black tea is allowed to fully oxidize, giving the tea leaves their dark color and rich malty scent. Green tea is minimally oxidized, so the leaves maintain some of their original green leaf color and flavor.
Oolong Tea Origins
Oolong tea is the epitome of artisan tea processing. The look, shape, and flavor of oolong tea vary greatly depending on where it is cultivated and how it is processed. Oolong tea is said to have originated in both China and Taiwan, and the tea is still highly valued in both nations today.
According to one legend, the Chinese gave the large dark tea leaves the name “wulong” or “black dragon” because they were severely oxidized and twisted into shapes that happened to resemble the legendary Chinese dragon. Another myth speaks about a tea farmer named Wu Liang (later abbreviated to Wulong) who accidentally developed the oolong style of tea. After a long day of tea plucking, the farmer became preoccupied, and when he returned to his withering tea leaves, he realized they had already begun to oxidize.
Whatever tale you believe, the most famous Chinese oolongs are produced in high mountainous locations with rocky terrain and chilly temperatures. The strong flavor of these oolongs is attributed to their distinct location and harsh climate. Taiwan’s most famous oolongs are usually less oxidized (10% to 40%) and hence greener in color and lighter in flavor than Chinese oolongs. The types of oolong produced around the country differ just as much as the styles of wine produced in France. Some oolongs are twisted into long leafy threads, while others are coiled into little tight balls.
Others flourish in temperate bamboo-forested hillsides, while some grow in isolated mist-covered summits. Some are harvested in the spring for their floral herbaceous flavor, while others are harvested in the winter and roasted for their substantial woodsy flavor.
While the most well-known oolongs originated in China and Taiwan, many kinds of oolong are now produced in other areas of the world. Some of the world’s oolong teas are produced in India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, and New Zealand, to name a few.
What Influences The Oolong Tea Taste?
The flavor of oolong tea will depend on:
- Tea cultivar
- Production processes including oxidation and roasting
Tea cultivars also have an impact on the final flavor. A excellent example is a Taiwanese milky oolong, which is produced from an unique Jin Xuan cultivar and has a characteristic creamy and mildly milky flavor. The “creaminess” and “milkiness” of this tea, on the other hand, will be heavily influenced by the terroir. High elevations, plenty of rain, mist, and sunshine, as well as rich soil, are all required for a tea to really live up to its cultivar’s potential. Furthermore, the lack of oxidation and roasting results in a cup with a lot of fresh and flowery flavors. Oolong tea can be mildly, mediumly, or heavily roasted, with the latter having a very powerful, pungent, and nutty flavor.
Some types of oolong tea can be aged. They vary from old pu’erh tea in that they lack the distinctive earthy pu’erh flavor. Expect a charcoal note, as well as subtle undertones of whiskey and mellowness. Oolong tea is also available in tea bags, although it typically contains very fine particles and dust. They will have a distinct flavor from whole leaf loose leaf tea.
Does Oolong Tea Taste Like Black Tea?
Oolong tea taste can be like black tea if it is heavily oxidized, although it is rarely full-bodied. Some oolong teas may be oxidized up to 99 percent, however this is extremely unusual. Black oolong tea will most likely have characteristics similar to somewhat fruity Chinese black teas. Even severely oxidized oolongs are more lively and fragrant than normal black tea.