So what is Oolong Tea?
Oolong is neither a black tea nor a green tea; it falls into its own category of tea. Yet an oolong may end up with more black tea characteristics or more green tea characteristics depending on the direction the tea master takes in the processing of the tea.
Oolong tea origins
Oolong represents a true artisan mastership of tea processing. The appearance, shape, and flavor of an oolong tea can vary wildly depending on the region where it’s grown and how it’s processed. The origins of oolong are claimed in China and the tea is still highly revered today.
One story claims that a Chinese tea farmer named Wu Liang (later shortened to Wulong) who discovered the oolong style of tea by accident. The farmer was distracted after a long day of tea picking and upon returning to his withering tea leaves he discovered they had already started to oxidize. No matter you believe the story or not, it is true that the most famous Chinese oolongs are grown in high mountainous regions over rocky terrain and in cool weather. It is the unique geography and harsh environment that gives these oolongs the rich flavor they are famous for.
Tasting oolong tea
Because oolong tea is oxidized at varying levels depending on the processing technique of the tea master, its flavor can range from light to full-bodied, floral to grassy, and sweet to toasty. The color of the leaves and the hue of the brewed tea can also vary from green to golden to brown.
Given its origins, oolong tea is hugely popular in Asia. In fact, just as there are wine competitions in California, Italy or France, there are oolong competitions across Asia to honor the artisanship of oolong tea producers. Teas may be judged on everything from the shape and appearance of the dry and wet leaves to the color, aroma, and taste of the brewed tea.
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