Oolong teas are rapidly gaining popularity in the Western world. And, among oolong teas, those created in Taiwan, referred to as Formosa oolong teas, are some of the most delicious. If you haven’t tried Formosa oolong tea, you’re in for a real treat.
Oolong teas originated in China. Oolong literally means black dragon. However, the tea is often referred to as Wulong tea, a name that originated with the person believed to have created this tea.
Wu Liang was a Chinese tea gardener, who, according to Chinese legend, was busy collecting and processing tea leaves when he spotted a river deer. He stopped to kill and prepare the deer and it interrupted his tea processing for the day, and he forgot to dry out the leaves.
He remembered the tea a day later. By this time it had begun to change color, and Wu Liang was afraid it had gone bad, but decided to finish drying it anyway. After completing the drying process, he made himself a cup and found that he had created a very flavorful and aromatic tea. This was the birth of oolong tea.
Oolong tea falls somewhere between black and green tea. It is fermented, but for a shorter period of time than black tea. Depending upon the length of fermentation, oolong teas can be closer to green teas in terms of color and flavor, or closer to black teas. In addition, oolong teas are traditionally made from the larger leaves of the tea plant. These are the leaves that grow further down the tea plant rather than the top leaves.
Formosa oolong teas are those produced in Taiwan, rather than in China. Next to China, Taiwan produces the largest quantity of oolong tea in the world. Formosa oolong teas fall into two categories, depending upon how long they’re fermented. True Formosa oolongs, like Chinese oolong teas, are fermented until about 30% of the tea leaves are red, leaving about 70% of the leaves green.
Formosa Pouchong oolong teas are closer to green tea. The leaves are fermented until just about 15% are red, leaving them 85% green.
To make Formosa oolong and pouchong teas, the leaves are plucked early in the day and then withered in the sun. Then the leaves are bruised lightly to cause the fermentation process to begin. Tea artisans will carefully watch the tea during the fermentation process, often shaking or tumbling the leaves regularly, until the leaves have fermented the required length of time and have reached the appropriate proportion of green and red leaves. It is ending the fermentation process at precisely the right time that makes a perfect oolong or pouchong tea.
Next, the leaves are dried, often using charcoal before they are graded according to the quality and sent for packaging.
Imperial Formosa oolong teas are considered the most sophisticated tea flavors in the world. It brews to a golden color and produces a very crisp liquor. It’s an incredibly flavorful tea, often with significant notes of orange and nut flavors and sometimes with a very woody and sweet finish that lingers on the tongue.
Imperial Formosa oolong tea is a fairly rare tea. It may be more difficult to find and may be a bit more expensive. However, it is a true connoisseur’s tea and will likely be one of the most exceptionally flavored teas you’ve ever experienced. You may find that each time you taste Imperial Formosa oolong tea you discover a slightly new and different nuance to the flavor.
Oolong teas of all varieties are also very healthy. Tea leaves naturally contain a high level of anti-oxidants. Fermentation changes these anti-oxidants, and the degree of the fermentation affects the amount of anti-oxidant changes. Because oolong teas are only partially fermented they retain a high level of anti-oxidants in their most natural state.
In particular, oolong teas have a very high level of polyphenols, which are some of the most potent anti-oxidants and are particularly effective at preventing heart disease and many forms of cancer. In recent years, scientists have performed a great deal of research on the positive health benefits of drinking tea and feel confident that being a lifelong tea drinker can help you live a longer and healthier life, protecting you from many serious illnesses.
Oolong tea can also be an effective weight loss supplement. The combination of the caffeine and anti-oxidants in oolong tea have been shown to speed up the metabolism and promote the oxidation of fat. And, research has shown that the caffeine in tea doesn’t appear to raise heart rate or cause jitters the way many other caffeinated beverages can. So, tea is safely consumed by most people who are normally caffeine sensitive.
Formosa oolong teas are some of the most delicious and satisfying of all teas. For the experienced tea drinker, oolongs can add a new dimension to a favorite beverage. And for the novice tea drinker, oolong provides a sophisticated introduction to the world of tea. Experience Imperial Formosa oolong for yourself. You’re sure to be delighted with this fragrant and flavorful tea.
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