Almost everyone knows something about Black, Green and White teas, but look at us questioningly when we suggest they try an Oolong tea. Those who do know about Oolong tea seem to think ‘oh it is an expensive tea!’ Yes, it can be one of the more pricey teas available per gram (Dry weight), compared to others, but also one of the most rewarding teas from a taste and cost satisfaction standpoint.
First, let’s look at the price perspective. True, you may be paying more for your bag of Oolong. Oolongs can range from economical to very expensive. These teas are more expensive because of the multiple times they are processed and hand sorted to get them just right. However it is not the cost of the bag of tea, but the cost per cup that counts. The cost per cup for Oolongs is actually quite reasonable because of its ability to infuse the same leaves many times.
Lightly oxidized Oolongs
First, there are lightly oxidized Oolongs, anywhere from 12% to approximately 30%. They are usually rolled into balls, although not all; and are green with some brown markings. The green may be anything from dull to bright and iridescent and the rolled balls may vary in size depending upon quality and
Taste varies from vegetative to very floral and all places in between. This is a very good reason to drink Oolongs because you just may find one that will suit your specific taste. Lightly oxidized oolongs are usually picked 5 leaves and a bud and are very large leaves measuring several inches long as pictured below.
Imagine this all rolled up into a small ball measuring less than 1 cm in diameter. While this is amazing wait until it unfurls in your cup. Ten grams of Oolong in a 500 ml glass pot will grow to fill the pot after 4 infusions. This is the beauty of Oolongs’, they offer multiple infusions, a good Tie Kuan Yin yields up to 10 good infusions while putting on a delightful show of expanding leaves at the same time.
Keep in mind when you drink Oolongs you are in for a lot of cups of tea. Oolongs work well in you tea travelers. Add 5 grams of tea, fill with water and you are off to a tea drinking adventure. As you drink add more water to your traveler.
More fully oxidized Oolongs
The more fully oxidized Oolongs are usually plucked single-leaf and oxidized to approximately 70%. This yields a slightly nutty tasting tea, reminiscent of a weak looking black tea only much milder. These Oolongs will give you 2—3 good steeping’s and are quite smooth and mellow compared with most black teas.
Peter in China holding an Oolong leaf stem. See the 4 leaves and a bud typical of good Oolongs