Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea 乌龙茶 Wulong Cha, also Brown tea

A vast category fullof many varieties is the Wulongcha, which means “Black Dragon Tea”. In order to obtain big leaves they are plucked quite late in the season. Depending on the region there are harvests during spring and autumn/winter. In difference to other types of tea it is not “two leaves and a bud”, but a stem with three to five big leaves on it which is plucked. In the case of the ball-leaved Oolong the stem is being processed along with the leaves. The fresh leaves are exposed to the sun or laid out in the shade as a first step and then they are brought indoors to cool out. They are loosened up by shaking, which partially breaks up the cell structure. This enables the leaf substances to come into contact with the leaves’ enzymes, which start oxidising the former by connecting them to the oxygen of the air. This process is, wrongly, also called fermentation. After the shaking, the leaf material is thus piled up in portions and left to oxidise/ferment over night, while the shaking is repeated with increasing intensity. Depending on how often the leaves are shaken, the thickness of the piles, time, temperature and moisture, leaves oxidise more or less intensely. As all Oolongs are oxidised (fermented) partially they are also called “half-fermented teas”. When the oxidising process has come to an end the leaves are rolled and heated in rolling machines and heated rotary drums. We speak here again of Sha Qing, “killing the green”, which means again the complete deactivation of enzymes; however, enzymes are not totally deactivated, which means that the tea is still alive and changes over time when stored. Finally, Oolong teas are dried with hot air, fire or charcoal. Roasting the tea over charcoal can be done immediately after the tea has been dried or even later. Depending on the heat the tea is not only dried here, but also changes in taste. The production of Oolong teas probably emerged around 1500 on the Wudong mountain in Phoenix and came over Anxi to Wuyishan and Taiwan.