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Fresh Loose Leaf Oolong Tea: Origin
More famous as a Chinese tea, the name ‘oolong’ also has its origin there, in ‘wu long’ or ‘black dragon’. Its origins come in unconfirmed stories, one of a tea grower named Wu Long who forgot to process his pick one day. The leaves began to naturally wilt and oxidize. When Wu Long found them the next day, he decided to process them mildly and found himself with a brew that was similar to the black tea but smoother, sweeter and more fragrant.
Making of the best oolong teas
Oolongs too are made from leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. What sets it apart from the blacks or whites or greens is the single step of oxidation. Oolongs fit between black and green teas by being partially oxidized.
Its leaves are usually formed in one of two unique styles: rolling them long and curly or ‘wrap‐ curling’ the leaves into small bead‐like shapes, sometimes with a tail.
To create the robust fresh flavor the leaves are withered, rolled, and fired multiple times. In crafting an oolong, the tea master must both recognize the potential in a leaf to lend itself to this type, and be skilled in the making of it.
Oolong teas have caught the interest of tea drinkers for health reasons as well. There are numerous oolong teas benefits and it’s thought to be beneficial to health for its antioxidant properties, as much or more than the average black.
How to find the best oolong teas?
While Taiwanese and Chinese oolongs are famous world over, in India too oolongs are now beginning to gain recognition and popularity. Darjeeling’s tea gardens have begun to produce organic oolong teas in small quantities. Unlike the Taiwanese or Chinese oolongs which are more toasty and woody, the Indian oolongs are floral and fragrant. Less astringent than the black, they are more about flavors than tannic strength. You can find the best fresh loose leaf oolong teas from the finest estates of India like Darjeeling’s Mim, Castleton, Jungpana, Singbulli and Glenburn. You can also get organic oolong and loose leaf oolong teas in Teabox’s nitro-flushed Teapacs which have pyramidal oolong tea bags.