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Oolong Tea

Oolong TeaOolong Tea, or Wulong tea is a semi-fermented tea with a rich clean taste and a pleasant after taste, Oolongs are classified as either dark Oolongs or green Oolongs with the dark having been roasted longer than green Oolongs, green Oolongs tend to have a strong fragrance, dark Oolongs have a stronger aftertaste.

Oolong tea is a complicated tea to produce requiring a highly skilled Tea Master to bring out the enormous range of flavors, fragrances and liquor colors expected from the finest Oolongs.

Like all other varieties of Chinese tea Oolongs flavours are influenced by how little or how much the tea leaves have been allowed to oxidize. Oolongs tea’s oxidation range is from 15%-75%; as opposed to green tea’s near lack of oxidation and black tea’s close to total oxidation

Seven important steps in making Oolong tea… 

Withering …

The tea leaves are spread out either under cover or outside in direct sun to soften leaves. This draws the moisture to the surface for evaporation as well as softens the leaves leading to natural  fermentation, and prepares the leaves for the bruising stage.

Tossing or Bruising …

Once done by hand this step is now done with machines, the aim is to further break down the leaves, improving oxidation and mixing chemical elements held in the stems with the leaves, which removes any bitterness and balances the flavour of the tea.

Oxidization … Partial or Full …

Used in Oolongs and Black Teas this step continues the natural process of fermentation, allowing the leaves to rest after the withering or bruising steps. The time allowed at this stage determines the degree of fermentation for each type of tea being made. At this point, the leaves turn to a darker green or even a red colour, It is at this crucial stage that the tea begins to develop its taste characteristics.

Kill-Green … or Fixing …

This step ends the natural fermentation and processes within the leaves without damaging them.  Steaming the leaves, hand pressing in a hot pan or baking techniques are the methods commonly used to stop the fermentation process.

Rolling or Forming …

The tea leaves are passed through hot or cold rollers to slightly break down the leaves, this establishes the shape of the leaves and intensifies the flavour of the tea.

Drying …

As well as dictating the final moisture content of the leaves drying stops any further unwanted fermentation drying also prevents mold growth and removes any grassy  taste … drying the tea helps develop the finished tea’s aroma, an important indicator of quality in Chinese tea.

Firing …

Oolongs such as Dao hong pao  are sometimes roasted in a pan or a basket over a charcoal fire to give a smoky or fruity flavour.

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