Traditionally from China and Taiwan but thanks to the creativity of artisan tea producers, increasingly available from many other countries, Oolong teas come in different styles and offer a huge variety of flavours.
Unlike fully oxidised black tea and un-oxidised green tea, oolong teas are all partially oxidized – ranging from 10% to 80% – making them the most complex type of tea to produce. In effect, oolong teas build a bridge between green tea and black tea and cater for every possible taste.
One difference between oolong and other types of tea is that the producers often use three leaves and a bud instead of just one or two leaves and a bud.
After picking and withering, comes the important step of controlling oxidation. If the oolong is a semi-ball rolled style tea, the production process may spread over two days, during which time the leaves are repeatedly heated, stirred, rolled and compressed. In addition to the previous steps some oolongs are roasted and some are aged. Our most popular oolongs come from Taiwan, a beautiful island that has the ideal conditions for growing tea.
Although rarely practised in the West, Gong Fu Cha and Cha Xi (the tea setting) is part of everyday life in Asia. When tea producer Katie came to visit us in Stuttgart we were amazed at how simply she transformed our counter into the perfect setting for enjoying tea. The choice of tea, teaware, ornaments and accessories and the way in which these are arranged is all part of Cha Xi. Using utensils she had brought with her and flowers she had picked from the street outside our shop she recreated the special atmosphere, harmony and tea ambience we had only previously experienced on our tea travels.
Oolongs also make delicious iced tea. This can either be prepared as a cold brew, by making the tea hot and chilling it or – our favourite method: Instead of throwing used oolong leaves away, by putting them into a jug, filling it up with cold water and letting the „spent” tea leaves continue to release their flavour over a few hours or overnight.
Depending on the style of the leaf, premium quality oolong tea can be brewed 5-8 times.
There are two different methods we recommend for the preparation of oolong tea. We can either make the tea “western style, using a teapot with a sieve, water at 90°C and a volume of tea between 12-15g for 1 liter of water.
Alternatively, the tea can be made “Gong Fu Cha” style, in a small teapot or gaiwan (a lidded bowl). With this method, prior to brewing the first pot of tea, the leaves are rinsed and moistened by filling the pot with boiled water that is poured away a few seconds later. Then the fun starts!
For the first infusion the tea is allowed to steep for about fifty seconds. After that, add about 10-15 seconds for the second and third steeping, with subsequent steeping times of 2 minutes each. Most Taiwanese oolongs can be brewed this way five times, and often more.