Oolong Tea Background
Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea which gives it a very unique character. Depending upon the particular kind of Oolong and the individual Tea Master who makes it, it can be fermented between 10-70%. Because of this the range of aromas and flavors is far more diverse than with any other kind of tea, and to many tea-aficionados oolong is the most distinct and enjoyable of all teas. Semi-fermentation gives oolong a little bit more body than a green tea but less body than a black tea ... and interestingly it gives the flavor a very unique twist. It lacks the rosy sweet aroma of black tea, but it likewise does not have the stridently grassy vegetal notes of some green teas. Because they are more full bodied than green teas, oolong teas must not be picked too early or at too tender a stage. They must be produced immediately. Unlike leaves for green tea, those destined to be oolong are wilted in the direct sun and then shaken in tubular bamboo baskets to bruise the leaf edges. The bruising is what makes the edges oxidize faster than the center. After 15-25 minutes (depending upon ambient temperature and humidity levels) the tea is fired, locking in the special flavor profile.