All About Tea
If kept vacuum-sealed, unroasted Oolong tea remains fresh for at least two years from the harvest date. Roasted teas have an even longer shelf life.
No, we don't recommend refrigerating your oolong tea . We have known about cold storage of large quantities of unroasted greener High Mountain Tea, but this is for long-storage in bulk vacuum-sealed bags. This is almost exclusively done by high-volume tea wholesalers. Keep your oolong tea away from light, heat, and moisture. Read more about how to store loose-leaf tea in our post here .
Roasting Oolong Tea takes the aromatic, fragrant qualities of unroasted Oolong and brings more body and complexity to the tea. A roasted Oolong carries a more balanced and full flavor while unroasted Oolong is more fresh and light.
Unroasted, or "Fresh" or "Green" Oolongs are left unroasted to maintain the naturally occurring aromatic oils in the leaf. High Mountain Oolong Tea is generally unroasted.
Lightly Roasted tea has undergone 1-2 intervals of being baked for several hours at low temperature. This transforms the character of the tea from fresh-green to a mellowed, more full-bodied brew. Roasting also increases the shelf life of the tea leaves.
Heavily Roasted tea has undergone multiple intervals of being baked for several hours at low temperature. Often, the artisan will increase the heat in the final hours of roasting to ensure a fully balanced roasted flavor. Heavily roasted tea delivers a distinctly hearty, bold character that can endure multiple brews.
Oolong tea is a partially oxidized tea made from dried leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.
Oolong tea flavor falls somewhere in between green tea (which is unoxidized) and black tea (which is completely oxidized). The flavors of Oolong tea can range from fresh, floral, and grassy, to roasted, nutty, and robust.
To learn more about how oolong tea is grown, processed, the many different varieties, and the history of oolong, have a look at this detailed article we've prepared.
For best results, each Oolong Tea should be treated differently when brewing, but as a general rule use 10 grams of tea for every 150 ml of boiling water, steep for 1 min, adjust to taste. For detailed info on how to brew oolong tea click here.
The main ways to brew Oolong Tea are Gong Fu, grandpa style, large pitcher, and cold brew.
BREWING OOLONG TEA GONG FU STYLE
The traditional method of brewing Oolong Tea in a small teapot or a lidded bowl called a “gaiwan” involves brewing small amounts of concentrated tea for short intervals that are repeated several times. Gong Fu brewing captures the subtle essences of flavor and aroma as they are released from the tea leaves.
Allow approx. 50 seconds first steep, adding 10-15 seconds for each successive steep. After the third steep adding up to two minutes for each successive brew is usually fine. Quality Oolong Tea can be brewed 5-8 times.
BREWING ROASTED OOLONG TEA
You need fewer tea leaves when brewing roasted oolongs. Start with around 8 grams tea / 150 ml water, and adjust to taste.
BREWING OOLONG TEA IN A GAIWAN
Brewing Oolong Tea in a gaiwan (蓋碗/lidded bowl) is pretty much the same as brewing in a teapot and the same proportions are recommended. You can adjust the amount of tea used, and the time of steeping to suit your particular taste.
GRANDPA STYLE TEA BREWING
Grandpa (or single mug) brewing is about using fewer leaves, and more water, with longer steep times. Single mug loose-leaf tea brewing is great for one serving of tea or when you just want your tea quick and simple. Simply put some loose leaf tea into a mug with a proportion of about 1:40 tea leaves to water (9 grams tea/ 350 ml water), and fill with boiling water. Refill with hot water whenever the brew becomes too strong, or you just want to warm up and top off your mug of tea.
LARGE PITCHER HOT OR ICED TEA
For preparing tea for 10 or more people, you can pre-brew your tea and have it ready to pour whenever the time is right. You also have the option to brew the tea leaves in a larger quantity with hot water, then put the brewed tea in the fridge or on ice (for a picnic) to prep for serving iced tea.
Use a ratio of 1:50 tea leaves to water (20 grams / 1 liter boiling water). Place tea leaves in a large English style teapot, a glass pitcher, a French press, or any other brewing vessel, fill with a measured amount of tea leaves, boiling water, and let steep for 10 minutes. Pour the brewed tea (as to not over brew) into a thermos, another pitcher, or chill it to pour over ice later.
COLD BREW TEA
The simplest brewing method, cold brew tea is steeping tea with room temperature or cold water. Use 1:150 tea leaves to water (7 grams tea / 1000 ml water). Don't have a scale? Start with 1-2 tablespoons of tea leaves for one liter of water. Let it sit for a minimum of 2-3 hours at room temperature, or put it in the fridge overnight to be ready to drink the next day.
Cold brewing is flexible in the amount of tea used: A little tea goes a long way, and it's hard to over-brew! Also, cold-brew is not as caffeinated as tea brewed with hot water.
Loose leaf tea will last a long time if properly stored. Storing your tea is simple, just keep it in a dry, airtight container, away from light.
Tea Storage Guidelines:
- Keep it dry.
- Minimize contact with air.
- Keep away from light.
- Store tea in a cool place between 10° and 25°C (50°-68°F).
- Do not put it in the fridge.
You can tell a lot about a loose-leaf Oolong Tea by its appearance. Here's a quick list of what to look for when choosing oolong tea before you taste it.
Most Taiwanese Oolong tea is tightly rolled into balls which helps keep the tea fresh and prevents the leaves from crumbling.
Uniform size of the rolled tea leaves shows the leaves were at a similar stage of growth when they were harvested. If the rolled tea leaves vary greatly in size, it usually means they were not harvested as carefully as they could have been, or that more than one crop of tea leaves have been mixed together.
If there are many small crumbs, the leaves were not sorted well and/or crumbled from repackaging.
SIMILAR IN SHAPE
Traditional Oolong tea production methods produce tea leaves that are similar in shape and less tightly rolled. Well-rolled tea leaves will have their stems protruding from the rolled leaf.
Taiwanese Oolong tea is a deep green hue, with hints of yellow or reddish-brown on the protruding stems. If the leaves themselves are yellow, this typically indicates that overly mature leaves were harvested along with the new growth. There is always a slight variation in color, but look out for big differences.
When a vacuum-sealed bag of loose-leaf tea is opened for the first time you will smell a nice subtle fragrance that indicates freshness and the degree of roasting. If you smell a stale, musty smell it indicates the tea was not dried well or that it was not stored properly. If there is a strong perfume smell it could indicate the leaves have been flavored with additives during or after processing.
Oolong Tea contains approximately 60 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce (237 ml) cup. For comparison, green tea contains approximately 25 mg, black tea 75, and coffee contains approximately 100 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Find out more about what factors affect the amount of caffeine in tea in our blog post .
FOR PRECISE CAFFEINE AMOUNTS IN 100S OF TEAS PLEASE CHECK OUT THE ECO-CHA CAFFEINE CALCULATOR.
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