Our recent Oolong Tea guides have covered the basics of Oolong Tea, the history of Oolong Tea, the nutritional value of Oolong tea and how to prepare oolong tea.
We now turn our attention to the ways in which Oolong Tea differs from other popular teas (and other beverages) so that you can understand the key differences when choosing your next tea to try. Let’s get started with Oolong Tea vs other tea.
A primer on processing:
Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong Tea and White Tea all come from the same plant: Camelia Sinensis. The different colours and flavours are produced through different processing methods. Leaves can be sun-dried, roasted, steamed, smoked and everything in between.
Darker leaves are produced by increased oxidation during processing. Darker leaves means oxidation, and usually also means a higher caffeine content and stronger, more bitter flavour.
Oolong tea vs Black tea
Oolong Tea and Black Tea might be the most commonly compared teas since they are both partially oxidised and can have a similar appearance. Black tea gets its distinct colour and flavour from a thorough oxidation process (the more oxidation takes place, the darker the leaves become). Oolong tea, on the other hand, can range in oxidation from 8-85%. This leaves a lot of room for different flavours and means that oolong tea can be closer to green tea or black tea depending on where it falls on that spectrum.
Black tea is is more oxidised by necessity, which gives it a bolder flavor than many oolong teas. It is also higher in caffeine, so if you’re looking for a tea to give you a little boost, black tea is the way to go. Oolong tea usually has less caffeine than black tea, but more than green tea. In terms of nutrition, both of them are good sources of antioxidants.
Oolong tea vs Coffee
These two drinks are often compared because they both contain caffeine and can be used as a pick-me-up.
It should go without saying that the main difference is that they come from completely different plants. Coffee is made from Coffee Beans, and Oolong is made from dried tea leaves.
Aside from that, the main diffrence is flavour. Coffee is known to be strong, full-bodied and slightly bitter. Oolong can be much more delicate, fruity and fragrant (depending how it was processed).
Nutritionally, coffee is much higher in caffeine than oolong tea. Coffee is also acidic, while oolong tea is not.
Depending on your consumption, you are more likely to crash when you drink coffee than when you drink oolong tea. This is because the caffeine content of coffee is much higher than Oolong tea. Oolong offers a slower release of caffeine and not enough caffeine to keep you up all night if you drink it in the evening.
Oolong tea vs Green tea
Green tea is a less oxidised form of tea, giving it its lighter colour. Depending on its processing method, it often has a lighter flavor than its darker counterparts. Oolong tea is somewhere in middle green and black tea in terms of oxidation, so it shares some characteristics with both. However, oolong is neither a black nor a green tea.
In terms of flavour, oolong tea is more complex than green tea. This is because oolong tea can be slightly fermented, which gives it a more nuanced flavour. Green tea is not normally fermented and has a more refreshing taste. If you’re looking something healthier, opt for oolong as it has more antioxidants.
Oolong tea vs Jasmine tea
Jasmine tea usually refers to a tea that has been flavoured with Jasmine (like our Jasmine Blossom Green Tea). It may also refer to Jasmine Flower Herbal Tea, which is simply jasmine flowers and petals.
Oolong tea can also be flavoured (like our Orange Blossom Oolong), but it doesn’t have to be. The main difference between these two teas is the flavor. Jasmine tea will have a sweet floral flavor, while unflavoured oolong tea can range from fruity to nutty.
Jasmine tea is typically made with green tea, but it can be made with black or oolong tea as well. The type of tea will affect the intensity of the jasmine flavour. Pure Jasmine Herbal Tea is caffeine-free, while Oolong has a reasonable amount of caffeine.
Oolong tea vs Matcha tea
Matcha tea is a type of green tea that is made into a powder. This powder is then whisked with hot water to create a frothy drink. Oolong tea can also be made into a powder, but it is not common. When we talk about properties, matcha tea is fundamentally green tea, just in powdered form.
The main difference between these two teas is the preparation. The best matcha tea is prepared using a bamboo whisk and special bowl. Oolong tea can be prepared in a regular teacup. Matcha tea is also higher in caffeine than oolong tea.
Oolong tea vs White tea
White tea is the least processed of all the teas. It is made from young leaves and buds that are picked before they are fully open. White tea is then allowed to wither and dry in the sun. Oolong tea is made from leaves that are semi-oxidised, so it is considered to be more processed than white tea.
The nutritional benefits of white tea are similar to those of oolong tea. Both teas are good sources of antioxidants. If you prefer a more delicate flavor, white tea is the way to go.
Oolong tea vs Yerba mate
Yerba mate is a South American herbal tea that is made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant. This tea is popular in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Yerba mate has a grassy flavor and is high in antioxidants and a caffeine equivalent called mateine.Oolong tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant is native to China and has been used to make tea for centuries. Oolong tea is made from partially oxidized leaves and has a more complex flavor than green or white tea.
Aside from being from completely different species of plants, on different continents, the main difference between yerba mate and oolong tea is the flavour.
Yerba mate has a grassy, slightly spicy flavour, while oolong tea can range from fruity to nutty. Yerba mate (also available as Yerba Mate Matcha) is also high in caffeine, while oolong tea has lower caffeine content. Both teas are good sources of antioxidants.
The above information should be a useful guide for distinguishing Oolong from similar teas and beverages. Another tool to help you find a new favourite!