Oolong tea is made from the stems, buds, and leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Generally speaking, it has a taste that sits somewhere between traditional green and black tea. But there are so many types and styles of oolong that tastes can vary greatly from cup to cup. The most famous varieties are those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujan.
Though Chinese in origin, oolong is consumed all over the globe for a number of reasons. Most notably, it’s enjoyed a lot of internet buzz over the last few years for its many purported health benefits. Here they are below.
It’s nutrient rich
Oolong tea contains caffeine, niacin, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. The average cup also contains up to 26% of your daily reference manganese intake. Manganese is said to promote healthy bones, aid calcium absorption, regulate blood sugar levels, and boost metabolism.
It could be good for your heart
Like kombucha, oolong is said to be good for cholesterol. Reducing the bad kind and promoting a healthy heart. One study found that oolong tea may be beneficial for those with coronary artery disease by affecting the progression of atherosclerosis.
But please remember to consult your GP if you do suffer from any heart conditions and are considering oolong.
Terrific for the teeth!
Just like green tea, oolong may help to protect your teeth from certain types of bacteria-produced acids. By preventing the growth and spread of these kinds of acids, oolong could act as an agent to ward off plaque and tooth decay.
Plus, on top of all those other wonderful nutrients mentioned earlier, a cup of oolong also provides up to 24% of your daily recommended fluoride intake. Fluoride helps with a process called remineralisation, which is when minerals are added to a tooth’s enamel layer in order to repair demineralisation damage caused by plaque and sugar in the mouth.
In a nutshell, fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay-inducing substances that reside in the mouth.
All the tannins, none of the bitterness
Tannins are wonderful for so many reasons. They’re actually compounds called polyphenols, and amongst their numerous health benefits they may stabilise blood pressure, aid digestion, promote heart health, and lower cholesterol.
Tannins are responsible for the colour and bitterness of tea. The rule is: the more tannins, the darker and more bitter the tea. Compared to green and black, oolong tea contains a relatively low concentration of tannins. This is why it makes for a lighter and more refreshing brew.
So if you’re looking for the benefits of tannins, but aren’t so keen on bitter tea, then oolong might be the one for you.
Oolong strengthens bones
Want strong bones? The antioxidants (along with the manganese) present in oolong tea may help protect our teeth from decay and strengthen the structure of our bones. In fact, in an interesting study, habitual tea drinkers were found to have higher bone mineral density than infrequent tea drinkers.
It makes for healthy, heavenly hair
Some people believe that when applied as a tea rinse, oolong tea helps to prevent hair loss. What’s a tea rinse, you ask? Simple. It’s when you brew a cup of tea, let it cool to at least room temperature, then pour it over your hair and scalp.
Not the tastiest way to consume your oolong, admittedly. But those who advocate this method claim that the antioxidants in oolong tea can work wonders for the head. Promoting thicker, shinier, and softer hair.
It’s wonderful for the skin
Who doesn’t want radiant skin? Experiments have shown that patients suffering with eczema may benefit from drinking oolong tea throughout the day (3 cups), and that such benefits can, according to the results, be seen in as little as a week. In one interesting study, looking at patients with recalcitrant atopic dermatitis, 63% of test subjects showed “marked to moderate improvements of their condition” after 1 month of daily oolong tea consumption.
It helps manage stress
Though oolong isn’t the only tea that may help in reducing stress (you already know about peppermint and chamomile), it’s still worth mentioning. Considering that nearly half of Brits suffer from long-term stress, we need all the stress-busting tools we can get!
In one Japanese study, mice that ingested oolong tea showed improvements in their stress levels by 10-18%. The researchers cited the natural polyphenols present in oolong tea as the primary stress-alleviating factor. Another study showed that stress levels in participants reduced significantly after just one week of 4 daily servings of oolong tea.
What to do for the perfect brew.
To get the most out of your oolong tea, add one heaped teaspoon (if using loose leaf) to each cup and pour over hot water (80°C is the optimal temperature). Then let it steep for 2-3 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.
Alternatively, in the hotter months, oolong works wonderfully as an iced tea. For this you’ll need 6 cups of water, 6 heaped teaspoons of loose leaf oolong, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice (freshly squeezed works best). All you need to do is steep your tea as normal. Once it’s brewed, removed the leaves and let it cool. Then add the lemon juice and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Top tip: serve with a handful of fresh raspberries for a fabulously fruity kick!
If you’re feeling parched at the mention of all that splendid tea, why not grab yourself a pack of our Sweet Pink Oolong blend now!