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Oolong Tea - The Lesser-known Tea from the East

Oolong Tea

If you are looking for a tea sitting somewhere between traditional black and green teas, oolong tea could be just what you are seeking.
Oolong Teaset

Only accounting for 2% of world tea, this lesser-known tea from the East also packs a number of health benefits.

Largely produced in Fujian and Guandong provinces in China, as well as Taiwan, its taste and aroma are determined by the degree of oxidisation when processed.

It is this slight oxidisation which places loose leaf oolong on the scale between green and black tea.

The history of Oolong tea:

The history of this distinctive tea is a little tricky to definitively pin down, though it is referred to in records which date it back at least five hundred years.

However, it has most likely been present in Fujian province for much longer than this. One of the more accepted theories on when this tea was invented dates it back to the 10th century.

In this scenario, oolong was an offshoot of an early tribute tea called Beiyuan tea. As the name suggests a tribute tea was given in tribute to royalty or the emperor.

However, like most things, it eventually fell out of fashion and when this happened the compressed leaf of Beiyuan tea was transformed using slight oxidisation into the loose-leaf oolong instead.

Of course, there are other claimants to the founding of oolong tea. One of these credits a tea farmer from Fujian Province, who delayed processing his picked leaves while he went off hunting a deer.

By the time he got back to sorting his tea leaves, they had already begun to oxidise around the edges. Instead of letting them go to waste he processed them as normal anyway.

The results were a sweeter, smoother tea and the farmer’s name of Wu Long is said to be the origination of oolong.

Health benefits of sipping loose leaf Oolong:

There are a number of oolong tea benefits to be gained from drinking it irrespective of how the tea actually came to be.

It is a tea containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as theanine that is recognised for its calming effect. Some of the major health benefits linked to this semi-fermented tea include:

Heart health:

Research suggests this little known tea could help heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study in Japan observed 76,000 adult participants who drank 240ml of the tea each day and concluded they were at 61% lower risk of heart disease.

Type 2 Diabetes and Weight loss:

Evidence on whether oolong reduces the risk of diabetes is mixed and more research needs to be done. However, antioxidants within the tea can help maintain blood sugar levels at a normal rate, which in turn may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Weight loss:

Studies indicate this tea can help improve fat metabolism which could result in weight loss. A combination of the natural plant compound polyphenol and the caffeine within the tea may boost the levels of calories and fat burned each day for some people who drink the tea.

Skin care:

Polyphenol antioxidants can also aid skincare, including eczema skin care. By drinking three cups of oolong each day people with eczema could see the benefits within a week.

When continuing to drink the tea on a daily basis in conjunction with their regular treatment course the improvement in people’s skin condition can still be maintained 6 months down the line.

Improved bone health:

Another benefit of drinking oolong and the antioxidants it contains is in strengthening bones. Studies indicate better bone density was maintained by those who had been drinking the tea for 10 years or more.

As well as your bones, a high level of fluoride within the tea can boost tooth enamel and help combat tooth decay.

This little known tea from the East may also hold the potential to reduce the risk of certain cancers, as well as improve brain function and mental alertness.

As with any drink containing caffeine, it should be drunk in sensible moderation. Yet the combination of a fragrant tea promoting relaxation and the numerous oolong tea benefits for your health could quickly make oolong a popular choice for more tea drinkers.

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