Oolong Tea

This semi-oxidized tea is also called qing cha in China. The word qing is the colour of nature, and may therefore be translated as green (as in plants and leaves) or blue (as in the sky and ocean). The word cha means tea.

In order to avoid confusing qing cha with common green tea, it could therefore be a good idea to translate it as ”blue tea”. Another solution would be to call it ”blue-green tea”. The former will be used on this website.

Oolong tea is sometimes lightly oxidized (10 percent) and quite similar to green tea, but it could also have gone through a more extended oxidation process (70 percent) and be more like black tea. The flavour of oolong tea is often described as flowery or nutty regardless of the level of oxidation.

You can also look closer at an oolong tea leaf to see the results of the oxidation process. The oxidation has turned the leaf darker where it’s been bruised during the production process. This happens when the fibers are broken and the juices start to react with the oxygen in the air.

It’s primarily the large tea leaves that are used when producing oolong tea. This it contain less caffeine than green tea, since the young buds are much richer in caffeine.

The Word Oolong

The word oolong comes from the Chinese word wulong meaning ”black dragon”. It’s not known why this tea is called black dragon, but possible explanations are found in old Chinese legends.

There was a man called Wu Liang who was distracted by a deer after having picked tea leaves a whole day. Consequently, the leaves started to oxidize and oolong tea was the result. The man’s name was later changed, for some reason, to Wu Long. Another story narrates that a tea farmer saw a black snake and ran away. When he dared to return a few days later the tea leaves had already started to oxidize. Others say that the leaves look like little dragons coming to life when steeped in hot water.

Oolong tea was invented during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It originally comes from the Fujian province, and then the processing method also spread to Taiwan. The biggest production areas are Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

How to Prepare Oolong Tea

The water temperature should be about 85–95 degrees Celsius. The Chinese often use a gaiwan (lidded bowl) and the brewing method Gongfucha. And the tea leaves are used several times.