Oolong tea has numerous health benefits. Everything you need to know about oolong tea is included here, including how to brew it, its flavor, benefits, and potential hazards.
Many consider oolong tea to be too sophisticated, something they will never really comprehend. But it’s not all that different from your standard black or green tea; in fact, you might say it’s a hybrid of the two! Furthermore, our research indicates that oolong tea has more health benefits for the body than its green and black counterparts.
Oolong tea is an excellent choice for times when you desire to have a rejuvenating hot drink, which is not too strong, but at the same time has some caffeine and flavor to it, so you can indulge your taste buds. According to some, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a sip of this tea is like a 5-minute-long relaxing retreat for mind and body! Besides, having this tea is a fantastic way to prevent yourself from mindlessly munching on snacks. If you are someone who easily feels fatigued during the day or simply needs a little TLC from time to time, oolong tea is worth your buck!
Oolong Tea: What Is It?
In its most basic form, oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea that is usually drunk in China. It is made by partially oxidizing Camellia Sinensis leaves after they have withered in the sun and bruised a little. Its combination of flavonoids and catechins, similar to that of black tea, makes it an antioxidant powerhouse that is good for your health (1), (2).
Compared to other types of tea, this variant has a unique flavor and complex taste — delightfully floral and fruity, as well as a bit toasty and earthy like black tea. The most common way of preparing oolong tea is by infusing it in hot water, however, many people these days prefer cold brewing or adding some milk to their cup, which is also an excellent way of consumption.
Oolong Tea Nutritional Value:
Just like any tea, oolong tea too, is brimming with antioxidant properties through catechins and polyphenols (theaflavins, thearubigins, and EGCG), which enables the human body to defend itself from pathogens (1), (3). Besides, popular evidence suggests that it contains small quantities of micronutrients such as manganese, potassium, magnesium, niacin (vitamin B), and sodium (4). While this is a less-known fact about oolong tea, it contains certain amino acids that are said to offer multi-faceted benefits to health (5).
How to Make Oolong Tea?
Here are several ways to prepare a mean cup of oolong tea:
- Traditional Earthen Teapot: If you wish to prepare the tea in a Yixing teapot, which is a traditional Chinese method of brewing, you simply need to add the tea leaves and pour piping hot water over it, up to the brim. Then, close the lid and pour some hot water over the whole vessel to enhance the flavor. Give it a few minutes, and then pour it into a cup.
- Gaiwan: This is a traditional Chinese clay cup, which comes with a saucer and lid. You can start by adding your tea leaves and pouring hot water over them in circular motions. Then, place the lid and let it infuse. Once done, slide the lid in a way that there’s a fine aperture to release the drink. Press the lid and the edge of the Gaiwan firmly, and hold it at a 90-degree angle when pouring. Ensure that no tea leaves fall into the drink.
- Filtered Kettle/Cup: Many modern kettles and cups come with built-in stainless steel filters. To use them, all you need to do is add 2-3 teaspoons of tea leaves (a lesser amount if it is a cup), and some hot water and press the lid firmly to let it steep. After 2-4 minutes you can pour the tea. In case it is a cup, you can carefully take the filter out, ensuring the tea leaves don’t fall into the drink.
- Tea Bags: While traditionalist tea lovers may not approve of this method, using tea bags is a very convenient method of preparing oolong tea. All you need to do is place the tea bag in your cup, pour some hot water, and pull the string up and down to efficiently infuse the flavors.
- Cold Brew: Just like cold brewing coffee, you can infuse oolong tea leaves in an airtight glass jar or tumbler and let it sit in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours — not too long! Then, filter out the leaves and consume it in less than 20 hours.
You can also choose to add 1-3 teaspoons of milk to your oolong tea, especially if it is hot. Feel free to sweeten it with agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey if needed. Some popular variants include peach oolong tea, ginseng oolong tea, jasmine oolong tea, and ginger oolong tea, which are delightful ways to get its benefits while also incorporating other goodies into your diet.
Now that you’ve seen different ways of preparing oolong tea, let’s understand its benefits to know what the hype is all about!
8 Health Benefits of Oolong Tea:
It May Lower the Symptoms of Diabetes:
Several pieces of research have shown evidence for oolong tea’s antidiabetic properties. In one study involving Chinese men and women with diabetes mellitus, who drank 16-30 cups of tea per week, it was proven that oolong tea benefits diabetics by enhancing glucose tolerance (6). The study, in addition to many others, also showed that it facilitates insulin resistance, balances blood sugar levels, and also works as a preventative measure for diabetes in individuals (7).
It Facilitates Healthy Weight Loss:
As many people are aware, oolong tea benefits the body by aiding in weight loss. The catechins in the tea are said to improve one’s metabolism and help modulate energy balance. This was evident in a Japanese study conducted on eleven healthy females, where it was deduced that oolong tea offered double the amount of polymerized polyphenols to their bodies than green tea, which boosted their energy metabolism (8). Plus, the caffeine in oolong tea burns fat without reducing your body’s energy levels (9). Besides, like any caffeinated drink, oolong tea helps curb hunger, so you’re less likely to binge on unhealthy snacks just because you’re bored! However, this can show noticeable results only if one consumes it regularly, in addition to a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
It May Prevent Cancer:
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of oolong tea are greater than its green or black variants. Studies say that these factors are likely to be the reason why it has incredible protective effects against different types of cancers — including neck cancer and ovarian cancer (1). To boot, its polyphenolic compounds also contribute greatly to its anti-cancer effects (10), (11).
It Promotes Heart Health:
These polyphenols in tea are also heroic in reducing the risks of heart diseases, such as high blood pressure. Research suggests that they do so by managing the absorption and impact of excess lipids in one’s diet. Consequently, oolong tea benefits your health by preventing bad cholesterol as well (10), (11).
It Helps with Immunity:
Oolong tea contains an amino acid called L-Theanine which is an excellent immunity-booster (12). This, in combination with its other health-enhancing properties, helps keep common colds and influenza at bay. Moreover, it is very beneficial in warding off inflammation and improving overall wellness.
It May Improve Cognitive Performance:
A study conducted on middle-aged and older Chinese adults suggested that tea consumption showed multi-faceted advancement in cognitive performance, such as memory, information processing, and execution of activities (13). Hence, we recommend consuming it regularly for improved overall mental health.
It Helps in Relaxation And Rejuvenation:
While it’s no surprise that a sublime cup of freshly brewed oolong can enhance one’s mood like nothing else, its relaxation benefits are indeed backed by science! Simply put, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties work in harmony to bid adieu to oxidative stress, thereby making it a great part of your everyday lifestyle. These health benefits were seen in athletes during their resting period after intense exercise (1).
It is a Great Alternative to Coffee:
The caffeine content in oolong tea is much less than in black tea or coffee. Moreover, the caffeine in oolong tea is less likely to dehydrate your body or hurt your sleep hygiene (14). This makes it a delicious, refreshing, and energizing alternative to coffee. Besides, unlike coffee, oolong tea speculatively offers incredible benefits for dental health and prevents deterioration of the tooth enamel.
There’s nothing in this world that comes with absolutely no side effects, and our beloved oolong tea is no exception! The following outlines a few of them.
Side Effects of Oolong Tea:
- Aches And Burns: Consuming on an empty stomach can cause stomach aches, nausea, acid reflux, and heartburn. This is likely caused by the tannins present in oolong tea reacting with the digestive acid present in the gut, which results in discomfort.
- Irregular Bowel Movements: Having oolong tea at the wrong times can also impact bowel movements, and cause problems like diarrhea.
- Restlessness And Anxiety: Overconsumption of oolong tea, like any caffeinated drink, can cause you to feel jittery and restless. The caffeine is likely to make your heart rate increase unusually, resulting in anxiety and stress that can disrupt your well-being (14). And, if you are someone who is already suffering from anxiety-related issues, consumption of tea in excessive amounts can worsen it!
As you can see, most negative effects of oolong tea, however, are rooted in excess consumption or consumption at the wrong times. Hence, we recommend you have no more than one to three cups a day, in the morning (after breakfast) and late afternoon (after lunch) to get the best of it. Also, having milk oolong tea over regular ones can keep problems such as acid reflux at bay.