Oolong Tea Oxidation
Oolong tea (also spelled wulong tea or wu long tea) is a semi-oxidized tea. Tea oxidation is commonly referred to as tea fermentation but this term is misleading. Strictly speaking, fermentation is an anaerobic process, but tea oxidation involves exposing tea leaves to the air. Tea oxidation is one of many steps in the production of oolong tea.
Oolong tea from Taiwan is grown from the Camellia Sinensis plant. All tea - black tea, green tea, and Oolong tea come from the same plant, and it is largely the degree of oxidation that differentiates them.
Green tea is un-oxidized, and black tea is fully oxidized. Oolong tea is in the middle of tea oxidation - usually between 20% and 80% oxidation.
One of the first steps in processing Taiwan oolong tea is to toss the leaves in large bamboo baskets. This bruises the leaves so that they oxidize evenly. After this tossing, the fresh leaves are left exposed to the air. The leaves react with the oxygen and begin to turn brown, much as leaves from a tree turn brown after they fall from the tree.
The oolong tea oxidation process is stopped by pan roasting the leaves. Judging the correct time for pan roasting the oolong tea leaves requires extensive experience in oolong tea processing. Tea masters participate in oolong tea processing competitions to demonstrate their skill at this fine art.
The many steps involved in processing tea leaves into fine oolong tea from Taiwan is one of the reasons why Taiwan oolong tea is so valued by tea connoisseurs around the world. Buy oolong tea today and start enjoying this wonderful, healthful beverage.