Take a sip of this delicate, aromatic tea and be transported into Ancient China and the world of oolong tea.

This tea is special in many ways, not just because of its delicate taste, but also because of its interesting history. A story full of wonder and emperors, the history of oolong tea is a tale as rich as its flavour.

Where did oolong tea originate?

Oolong Tea (Wu long) originates in China.  The name “oolong” actually means “black dragon tea.” This is because when producing Oolong, the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, are partially oxidised, making them darker in colour. The oxidation process is what gives oolong tea its unique flavor, somewhere between green tea and black tea.

It is said that oolong tea was discovered by accident when a tea farmer named Wei Yin was taking a break from working in his tea fields. He fell asleep under a tree and when he woke up, he found that his tea leaves had been partially eaten by a passing deer. He spent so long observing the deer that his tea leaves began to oxidise. The result was a delicious new type of tea that has been enjoyed by tea lovers ever since.
While the exact origins of oolong tea are still a bit of a mystery, it is believed that the first type of oolong tea was produced in China’s Fujian province (the home of many of the Best Chinese Tea) during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). This region is still famous for producing some of the best-tasting oolong teas in the world

What are the different types of oolong tea?

There is no doubt that oolong tea is delicious, but did you know that there are actually many different types of oolong tea, each with its own unique flavour?

The first thing to note is that the oxidation process can range from 8-to 80%, depending on the type of oolong tea. This means that there are light oolongs and dark. Some oolongs are even roasted, which gives them a toasty flavour.

Here’s an overview of the most popular types of oolong tea:

Pouchong Oolong Tea
This tea originated in Taiwan around the 18th century and gets its name from the Chinese word for “wrapping” because of the way the leaves are rolled into a small pouch. Pouchong Oolong tea has a light, floral flavour with a hint of fruitiness.

Dong Ding Oolong Tea
This oolong tea originates from the Dong Ding Mountain in Taiwan around 1860. It gets its name from the shape of the tea leaves, which look like small bells (“ding ding” in Chinese). Dong Ding Oolong has a full-bodied, rich, toasty flavour with floral notes.

High Mountain Ali Shan Oolong Tea
Also called the “Champagne of Teas!” was discovered around 1916 on Ali Shan mountain in Taiwan. This tea gets its name from the high altitude at which it is grown (around 3,000 feet!). High Mountain Ali Shan Oolong has a light, delicate flavor with hints of flowers and fruit, and a refreshing flavor with hints of peach and apricot.

Formosa Fancy Oolong Tea
Did someone say chocolate? This tea originates from Taiwan and was discovered in 1855. It gets its name from the island of Formosa (now known as Taiwan), which was a popular destination for European traders at the time. Formosa Fancy Oolong has a chocolatey, creamy flavor with hints of fruit.

Orange Blossom Oolong Tea
It all started in 17th century Italy when a trader brought back some tea leaves from China. He gave them to a local duchess who was so taken with the flavour that she added her own blend of orange blossoms and  Orange Blossom Oolong was born. This delicious tea is still enjoyed by many today! The taste of a subtle orange flavour with a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And that’s certainly true of this tea, which gets its name from the fact that it is often found in beautiful, hand-painted tins. Also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren, Oriental Beauty Oolong tea originates from Taiwan that dates back to 1860. It has a light, delicate flavour with floral notes and a slightly sweet taste, and wild honey notes.

Ti Kuan Iron Goddess
Another ethereal-sounding oolong tea, Ti Kuan Yin Oolong (also known as the Iron Goddess of Mercy) was first produced in China’s Fujian province sometime during the 19th century. It gets its name from a legend about a temple goddess who was so moved by the farmer’s dedication to tea-growing that she gave him an iron statue of herself. This tea has a smooth, mellow flavor with floral notes and a hint of sweetness.

Why Oolong tea?

Oolong tea is commonly compared to other teas because of its unique flavour, but what sets it apart from the rest? 

Oolong tea has a long list of benefits, now that is not saying that oolong tea is the end-all-be-all of teas but it does have many positive benefits like antioxidants, which can help with cell damage. Oolong tea can also boost metabolism and help with weight-loss goals. And lastly, oolong tea’s caffeine content has been shown to improve mental focus and clarity. 

If you aren’t enthralled by the tales of oolong tea, then perhaps the taste will win you over!

These are just a few of the many different types of oolong tea that are out there, each with its own unique flavor. So why not give one (or all) a try?