Oolong tea is a traditional brew made from the Camellia sinensis bush that ranges in oxidation from 10 to 70 percent, which is between green and black tea fermentation levels. The tea is also spelled wulong or wu-long.
The taste is more akin to green than black varieties. While lacking the rosy, sweet aroma of black brews, wulong offers a delightful, satisfying flavor without the stridently grassy vegetal notes that typify most green blends.
Also referred to as wulong tea, it is commonly brewed to be strong, with the bitterness leaving a sweet aftertaste. Typically, preparation includes 2.25 grams of tea per 170 grams of water, or about two teaspoons of bulk tea per cup.
Oolong teas should be prepared with 180°F to 190°F (82°C-87°C) water (not boiling) and steeped 3-4 minutes.
According to tea expert and purveyor Adam Soliman of CharBrew, high quality varieties can be brewed multiple times using the same tea leaves. Unlike other varieties, the tea improves with each steeping.
"It is common to brew the same leaves three to five times, with the third or fourth steeping usually being the most flavorful," Mr. Soliman added.
The Tea's Origin
The most famous and expensive varieties are produced in the Fujian province China. Taiwan began production in the mid 19th century.
Since then, many of the teas that are grown in Fujian province have also been cultivated in Taiwan where the tea industry has grown at a rapid rate in the past 30 years.
Cultivation Expands to Vietnam
Oolong tea cultivation migrated to Vietnam in recent years and has continued to grow in popularity, as Taiwan moves more of its trade to the country. The tea that is produced yields a high quality, less expensive variety offering an excellent tasting brew.
Vietnam's Tam Chau tea plantation, located in the highlands of Bao Loc at an elevation of 850-950 meters above sea level, is a major tea producer spanning 300 hectares or 741 acres in size.
The cultivation has been controlled strictly without using chemical fertilizer. The tea processing technology and machinery are imported from Taiwan, and all processing follows Taiwanese cultivation methods.
Tea Fermentation and Processing
Following are the steps of tea cultivation on the Tam Chau plantation from plant to consumer.
For more on tea production in Vietnam or information about the CharBrew tea brand, click here.