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Oolong teas are often called the Princes of teas. Oolong teas are 10 to 75 percent fermented. They are often described as half-fermented. The preparation of an Oolong tea varies slightly according to the degree of fermentation. To many extents, you can compare Oolong tea to wine. Depending on the geographical location of the plant, taking climate and processing into account, many different kinds of Oolong tea will be produced.
Under the supervision of a tea master, the Oolong tea will go through different stages. First, the whole leaves will be roasted over a fire in wok, then they will be rolled and dried and then baked. Variations in the processing and the grade of fermentation will make the liquid shine in varying colours, from a luminous green, to gold and amber, or gentle red.
Oolong teas were first developed in Fujian, China, during the 18th century. Nowadays, they are also produced in Guangdong in China, but also in Taiwan, North Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Oolong teas can be harvested throughout the year, what gives them a special character. These precious teas have so many flavours, aromas and nuances, that will delight any tea drinker (fruity, sweet, nutty, caramel). The leaves come in many forms: rolled, swivelled, or frizzy, depending on the processing method.
Oolong teas are said to have a cleansing effect on the organism and support metabolism.
Oolong means "black Dragon". Oolong is the most complex tea to produce.
The tea leaves are laid on bamboo trays right after the harvest. The leaves touch one other, this friction between them will damage a little bit the edge of the leaves and they will start to liberate their enzymes. The leaves are then put into a warm rotating barrel at 70ºC for drying . This lasts 45 minutes. The leaves are then removed from the drum and folded in cotton cloth, they are kneed and rolled for 20 minutes. They go back into the warm drum. This process can be repeated up to 10 times. When the edges of the leaves are brown, the fermentation process will be stopped. The final step, which is optional, consists in roasting the leaves. Thanks to this roasting, the tea will have a longer conservation.
Oolong tea can be found in many fermentation degrees from 10% to 75%. This very specific transformation gives the tea its very special character. It can only be accomplished by expert hands.
No wonder that there are many competitions in China and Taiwan every year where tea masters present their best Oolong teas.