Oolong tea has become quite popular over the past few years—particularly in the western world. That’s because more and more people are discovering that these teas are not only some of the finest drinking teas in the world, but a few scientific studies have suggested that they might also have health benefits if they’re drunk regularly.
It’s for all of these reasons, and quite a few other ones, that we decided it would be a great idea to not only tell our readers about the best oolong tea varieties available but also tell them how they can choose a variety that they’ll enjoy. It’s our aim to make this guide one of the most comprehensive guide on oolong tea and we hope that we’ve achieved our aim.
List of the Best Oolong Tea
- Best Overall: Tie Guan Yin Tea Monkey-Picked Chinese Tea (Amazon) – Review
- Best Organic: Prince Of Peace Organic Oolong Teabags (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value: Pantenger Oolong High-Altitude Loose Leaf Tea (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable: Foojoy China Classic Min-Nan Oolong Teabags (Amazon) – Review
Best Overall: Tie Guan Yin Tea Monkey-Picked Chinese Tea
Before we get started with the review of this fine oolong tea, it’s probably worth taking a few moments and talking about its name. Although it’s called a monkey-picked tea, no actual monkeys were used to harvest the tea. It’s just a clever way of saying that the tea comes high altitude areas in China. This high-altitude not only makes the tea harder to pick, and therefore more expensive than traditional oolong teas but also gives it its unique flavor. A flavor that is unequaled by any other tea currently available. And that’s probably why so many people choose to buy and enjoy this tea regularly.
This tea has a light and naturally sweet flavor that just about anyone will enjoy to have in their cup. This flavor is only matched by the light and airy aroma that this tea produces after it’s been properly brewed. Another thing worth mentioning about these teas is that they’re tightly-balled leaves product a beautiful sparkling jade color in the cup. A color that tips the drinker off to the fact that they’re taking in rich antioxidants with every sip. This 3-ounce package of tea is enough to brew 54 8-ounce cups of tea and when the leaves are properly stored, they should stay fresh quite awhile.
Best Organic: Prince Of Peace Organic Oolong Teabags
It isn’t always easy to find an organic oolong tea, particularly considering that some less than scrupulous tea purveyors don’t run an above-board operation. We’ve had the unfortunate experience of finding some teas labeled as organic and that not being the case. Fortunately, when we found this oolong tea, we did find an organic tea. A tea that comes from the Wuyi District of Fujian, China–an area that has become extremely well known for its rock tea. And this tea is hand-picked and enveloped in a quality teabag that’s easy to use and enjoy.
When properly brewed, this tea has an extremely mild flavor and brews up to a bright golden color. Unfortunately, to fully experience its woodsy flavor and aroma is going to require more than just one teabag. That’s because, in our experience, we found that making a cup of tea with just one bag produced a tea that was too mild. Fortunately, that was remedied by brewing up two bags at the same time and when we did that we found that the tea was exquisite. If that’s not a big deal to the tea connoisseur, then they should pick up a pack of these tea bags and enjoy them.
Best Value: Pantenger Oolong High-Altitude Loose Leaf Tea
The first thing anyone who purchases this loose leaf oolong tea is going to notice is the decorative tin that it’s packaged it. This tea is packaged in a steel tin with a leopard on the front and with a tight-fitting lid on it. This not only helps to keep the tea within it nice and fresh until the consumer is ready to consume it, but it is also very decorative and makes it quite suitable to give it away as a gift. As fine as this tea’s tin is, however, it isn’t the most remarkable thing about this product. No, what’s truly remarkable about this product is the tea that waits inside of the tea.
The oolong tea in this set is sourced from the Alishan tea producing region of Taiwan and it’s grown at an altitude of approximately 4,200 to 4,600 feet. That high elevation results in this tea’s leaves maturing slower than oolong tea grown at lower altitudes. This slowed growth concentrates the flavor of the tea and causes it to develop a more flowery aroma. This aroma is a subtle contrast to the many woody oolong tea varieties that are available and makes this tea unique. However, it also means that its subtle flavor might be too subtle for people looking for a stronger tea.
Best Affordable: Foojoy China Classic Min-Nan Oolong Teabags
There are a lot of different Oolong tea blends out there and they’re available in a variety of different price ranges. Some teas are quite expensive and some, like this particular brand, don’t cost much at all. Now we understand that some people might not want to consider buying a lower-priced tea because they feel that it might be inferior to the premium teas available and that might be true in some circumstances but not in this one. That’s because although the strength of the tea produced by the teabags is a little inconsistent from cup to cup, it’s otherwise a great tea that has a nice aroma and flavor.
When we say that this tea is inconsistent, what we mean by that statement is that one cup of tea brewed with one bag might be too weak, while another time it might be too strong. However, we don’t feel that’s a deal-breaker, especially when this tea is capable of producing some amazing cups of teas. If the consumer brews this tea carefully and pays attention to the strength of their brew, then there’s no reason why every cup of this tea can’t be enjoyable. We know that we really enjoyed this tea, and we particularly enjoyed the fact that it didn’t set us back more money than it should’ve.
A Guide To Oolong Tea
Some experts spend all of their lives honing their knowledge of Oolong tea to the point where they can identify the best ones available at first glance. Unfortunately, most people don’t have that kind of time on their hands and simply want to know a few shortcuts to choose the best Oolong tea. That’s why we’ve crafted this guide that you’re currently reading. This guide will give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision.
What is Oolong Tea?
Before a tea lover can purchase the best Oolong tea available, they first have to know just what it is. In its most basic form, Oolong tea is an oxidized form of the Camellia Sinensis plant. It’s this oxidation that gives it its characteristic color and antioxidant properties. However, it should be noted that it isn’t as oxidized as black tea, so consumers should think of it as the mid-aging point between green tea and black tea. Oolong tea goes by several different names, which includes Black Dragon Tea and Wulong Tea. Sometimes it’s also referred to by the region it’s grown in.
How To Choose A Quality Oolong Tea
When buying Oolong tea, it’s a good idea to take a good look at what you’re buying. The oxidation level as well as the shape of the tea leaves can tell you whether the tea is a quality one or not.
Oolong tea can undergo an oxidation rate of anywhere from 10% up to 80% and this can have a drastic effect on the tea’s flavor. Oolong teas that don’t undergo a long oxidation process have a lighter and more flowery aroma, while others that are more oxidized can have a more woodsy flavor profile. Some people prefer an “older” Oolong tea, whiles others prefer a less mature one. It all depends on personal preferences. However, premium and gourmet Oolong teas generally use leaves that have a long maturity rate. Cheaper teas tend to get their product to market faster, so they generally go through a shorter maturing process.
What’s surprising to many people who are new to selecting Oolong tea leaves is that the shape of the leaves generally determines the quality of the end product. How is that possible? With the aging of oolong tea, the leaves begin to get twisted into balls. This shape not only informs the consumer that they’re enjoying a mature tea but also lets them know they’re enjoying a premium tea. The shaping of tea leaves in this manner improves the way the tea brews, as well as the aroma of the tea. In other words, curly and balled up tea leaves are the best ones.
How To Brew Oolong Tea
Now that we know how to purchase the best Oolong tea, it’s time to turn our attention to making the tea. Some people seem to think that they can buy premium Oolong tea leaves, toss them into some hot water and end up with a great tasting tea. That’s simply not the case. If a person wants a quality tea, they are not only going to want to buy a premium tea, but they’re also going to want to make sure that they brew that tea properly. Below is the proper procedure for making Oolong tea using loose leaves.
Step One: Gather Together Your Supplies
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is make sure that you have everything that you need. Below are the items you will need to brew a cup. Notice that there’s a tea controlled kettle or a thermometer on this list. Although we feel that one of those two things are important for making a great cup of tea, if the consumer doesn’t have one or the other, then they can just skip them. In step two, we’ll tell you how to make tea without being able to measure the water temperature.
- Tea Cup
- Temperature Controlled Kettle or Thermometer
- 2-Teaspoons Of Oolong Tea For Every 8-Ounces Of Water
- Tea Infuser
Step Two: Brew The Tea
Using a temperature-controlled tea kettle, bring the temperature of the water up to between 200 and 205-degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t own a tea kettle, then bring the water to a boil in a pot and use the thermometer to make sure the temperature is in that range. If neither a temp-controlled tea kettle or a thermometer is available, then bring the water to a boil in a pot and then take it off the heat for 2-minutes. In that amount of time, the temperature of the water should have dropped to the 200-degree Fahrenheit range.
Once the water is the right temperature, you can add your 2-teaspoons of loose Oolong tea to a tea infuser and place it in the water. For proper saturation, ensure that the tea leaves steep for approximately 2-minutes and 30-seconds to 3 minutes and 30-seconds, according to the strength desired. You can then remove the leaves and enjoy your hot tea.