Wulong tea is a Chinese tea variety that falls between the green and black brews in the process of oxidation. While the spelling of wulong or wu-long is common for this brew among some Westerners, it is typically known around the world as "oolong" tea.
Although the taste is more similar to green tea than black tea, it has a smooth rich flavor without the hint of bitterness sometimes characteristic of green blends.
The word, oolong or wulong, means "black dragon" in Chinese. How did it derive this name?
Folklore tales passed down through the generations suggest that the head of a tea plantation – while he working industriously drying his newly harvested tea leaves – was suddenly frightened by a mystical black snake that appeared.
The snake had forbidding, dragon-like characteristics that caused the owner to panic. He instantly fled from his tea estate, while leaving his leaves to bake in the sun.
When he cautiously returned a few days later in the hopes that the dragon snake was gone, the leaves of his tea had partially oxidized, which produced a wonderful, delicious beverage unlike other varieties.
Production of wulong (also referred to as oolong) includes these steps:
To prepare a single cup of brew, simply put 1-2 teaspoons of leaves into a tea infuser. Steep the leaves in a 6 ounce cup of hot water for 3-5 minutes. Then the tea is ready to drink.
Wulong has grown in popularity in recent years based on some research findings that suggest consumption of the tea may aid in weight loss.
The naturally present polyphenol compounds in the leaves activate enzymes that causes triglycerides to dissolve and produce fat-burning qualities.
For example, scientists from Japan's University of Tokushima School of Medicine did a study that found people who regularly consumed wulong tea experienced more than twice the calorie-burning results compared to those who drank green tea.
Another study completed at the Suntory Research Center in Osaka, Japan found that drinking wulong 15 minutes before eating foods high in carbohydrates curbed rises in insulin, thus reducing some of the fattening effects of carbohydrate intake.
More studies need to be done to substantiate this link between drinking the tea and fighting excess fat. Though, now wulong is often referred to as the "slimming tea."
This brew has been connected with other health related benefits as well. These include improving skin condition, promotion healthy teeth, reducing the signs of aging, boosting the immune system, and enhancing mental clarity (likely from the caffeine that is similar to green tea, but less than a cup of coffee).
For more information, click here: Benefits of Oolong Tea.