Oolong tea is a particular type of partially oxidized tea that is considered neither green tea nor black tea but falls somewhere right in the middle. It originated deep in the heart of China, and thankfully found its way into the western tea-drinking culture. This smooth blend not only tastes terrific, but has been used for hundreds of years across the world to help relieve and prevent many ailments such as eczema, heart disease, and diabetes. It can even help you lose weight!
Just like green and black tea, oolong tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. However, where green tea is unfermented and black tea is fully fermented, oolong tea is a middle ground and possesses the health benefits of both sides of the spectrum. It can differ in color and taste based on its oxidation process, but all types of oolong tea contain roughly the same benefits.
The reported health benefits of oolong tea are not just myth. This tea contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, caffeine, and beneficial tea polyphenol antioxidants, such as theaflavins, thearubigins, theanine, and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). There is a reason this tea has generated so much buzz in the health community. Simply put, its good for you!
Benefits Of Oolong Tea
1. Improve Heart Health
Tea antioxidants are famous for their ability to improve heart health by obliterating free radicals and encouraging blood flow. Though green tea is the primary source of these antioxidants, oolong tea still packs a powerful punch.
In a large-scale Japanese study, oolong tea was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease when 1 or more cups per day were consumed. Another study looked at the effects of oolong tea on cholesterol levels, as cholesterol is a great contributor to the development of heart disease. This study found a significant decrease in cholesterol levels when oolong tea was regularly consumed over a long period.
Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease and is characterized by a narrowing and hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis. Oolong tea has been proven to help avoid development of this atherosclerosis by reducing the risk of dyslipidemia, which is the initial elevation of triglycerides in the body, or plasma cholesterol that leads to coronary heart issues.
Not only can it prevent coronary heart disease, but it has also been shown to be a useful supplemental treatment in reducing the effects of atherosclerosis. In fact, oolong tea has been found to decrease this symptom with just one month of regular dosage.
2. Promote Weight Loss
It is easy to become enamored with specialty coffee drinks and blended frappuccinos. However, these drinks contribute little to overall health and well being. In fact, the high levels of sugar and processed ingredients are incredibly detrimental to your system and can encourage unhealthy weight gain. Pure unsweetened tea, on the other hand, is a totally zero-calorie beverage and is considered one of the healthiest drinks in the world.
Oolong tea has long been exalted as a fantastic aid to weight loss and body weight management efforts. But unlike many “miracle” weight loss drinks, this tea is actually backed by research. It is well known for its ability to increase metabolism in regular consumers by encouraging the body to produce more heat in a process known as thermogenesis. The process of weight loss typically slows down the metabolism and makes it more difficult for the body to burn fat as energy. So the body’s metabolism often needs a little extra help to perform optimally, and oolong tea can assist in speeding up a sluggish metabolic system.
Remember, oolong tea is not a wonder cure promising to help you lose a pound a day. It serves as a supplement to regular exercise and a healthy, green diet. Consistent consumption of this drink is required for any effects to be felt.
3. Prevent Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is purely lifestyle related, and often can be reversed with a healthy diet, exercise, and determination. Over 25 percent of the American population is prediabetic, with many not even aware of their risk. This condition is prominent among overweight individuals and is one of the most preventable diseases. Type two diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused by insulin resistance and high blood sugar built up over time, that can be reversed by lifestyle change.
One recent study showed that those who drank 24 ounces of oolong tea per day were at a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not drink the tea. This is thought to be due to oolong teas polyphenol antioxidants, which contribute to decreasing blood sugar and insulin levels.
Scientists are even looking at oolong tea as a potential aid in developing new medication to treat diabetes. Adding oolong tea to your regular diet can help manage type 2 diabetes, if you have it, and help prevent it from ever developing in the first place. Of course, these benefits are in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and proper diet choices.
4. Reduce Cancer Risk
Generally, antioxidants are best known for their ability to reduce the risk of developing cancer and encouraging the body’s production of healthy cells. Oolong tea, like black and green tea, is high in these beneficial antioxidants and has been studied as a means of limiting cancer risk in individuals. Its effects have mainly been addressed in regards to ovarian and pancreatic cancer.
Most research conducted in this area has focused on green and black tea, however, because oolong tea has the same components, similar effects can be expected. More scientific backing is needed in regards to oolong tea specifically before it can be confirmed as an appropriate prevention technique.
5. Limits Eczema Appearance
Eczema is an unsightly and uncomfortable skin condition that most commonly comes in the form of atopic dermatitis. Though there is no cure for eczema, there are various over the counter and prescription options that may help reduce the appearance of this irritating skin ailment. When taken in conjunction with oolong tea, participants of a study were found to have a significant reduction in eczema appearance.
6. Improve Brain Function
Due to its caffeine and L-theanine nutrients, tea is a known source for enhanced cognitive capabilities. It increases brain function by improving mental clarity, focus, calmness, and attention levels.
Even more important, however, is oolong teas ability to reduce mental decline and slow the onset of early memory loss and confusion. EGCG is a polyphenol prevalent in tea that can maintain the hippocampus and prevent deterioration of brain function in old age.
Oolong teas ability to prevent Alzheimer’s is not yet backed by enough evidence, but there may be some merit to this tea as a protection against the early development of this disease.
7. Reduces Inflammation
By now, the adverse effects of chronic inflammation on the body is common knowledge. Changing your diet can be one of the most effective ways to lower inflammation and restore your health. While drinking oolong tea can help reduce inflammation and attack the source of chronic pain.
8. Encourages Strong Bones
Oolong tea can help encourage healthy, strong bones and teeth. Due to its antioxidant and fluoride prevalence, oolong tea keeps teeth clean and has been shown to increase bone mineral density by 2% in habitual tea drinkers.
One other study showed that oolong tea was effective in limiting the presence of bone weakening in postmenopausal women. This tea, when consumed regularly was proven to be helpful in maintaining strong bones in women throughout and after menopause.
How To Make Oolong Tea
Though there are many varieties of oolong tea to choose from, most will deliver the same nutritional benefits. The difference is primarily in flavor and color, and your choice of tea will depend on personal preference.
- Start with 6 ounces of cold, fresh water that has not been boiled before and 1 teaspoon of tea if it is rolled into balls and 2 teaspoons if it is loose leaf like this one available on Amazon.
- Boil water to between 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit and then pour it over tea.
- Let it steep for 1-5 minutes depending on desired taste preference.
- Strain tea and enjoy!
Tip: Oolong tea is particularly suited to steeping multiple times. Each time you use the leaves, you will experience a new and exciting flavor.
Iced Lemon Oolong Tea
For a more refreshing option in the warm summer months, try whipping up a pitcher of this iced lemon oolong tea!
- 6 cups water
- 6 oolong tea bags (or equivalent amount of loose leaf tea)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tsp stevia (optional)
- Heat water to near boiling on the stove
- Add in tea bags and let steep for 5-7 minutes
- Remove tea and stir in lemon and stevia (if desired)
- Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours
- Serve over ice
Lemongrass Sparkling Oolong Tea
This zesty tea is a great alternative to other carbonated drinks.
- 3 stalks fresh lemongrass
- 1 tbsp oolong leaves
- 1 tbsp fresh, sliced ginger
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sparkling water
- Honey to taste
- Place all ingredients except sparkling water into a pot.
- Heat on medium until just before boiling.
- Remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes
- Add ice to a pitcher and strain tea over ice
- Gently stir in sparkling water
- Drinking excessive amounts of oolong tea can potentially be harmful due to its caffeine content. Side effects of caffeine overdose include headaches, tremors, nervousness, insomnia, irritability, heartburn, and dizziness. Keep in mind, however, that compared to coffee, the caffeine content of oolong tea is relatively low. About ¼ the amount of caffeine is in one cup of oolong tea than in the same amount of coffee.
- Oolong tea is possibly safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers when taken in small amounts. But you should consult your healthcare professional before consuming regularly. Do not exceed two cups per day.
- Avoid drinking oolong tea if you are on stimulant medication such as amphetamines, as this can lead to irregular blood pressure and increased heart rate.
- Flouride is a naturally occurring substance in tea but may have harmful effects when ingested in large amounts.
- There is insufficient evidence to fully support oolong tea as an effective treatment for any condition. Though it may prove beneficial as a supplement to medication, it is essential that you talk to your doctor before beginning regular consumption of this tea if you are on prescription drugs.
- The recommended amount of oolong tea is no more than three cups per day. Exceeding this amount could lead to an adverse reaction in your body.
Obviously, there are many reasons to brew yourself a cup of oolong tea and sip away! Be sure to take the time to enjoy the entire tea-making process as it has been shown to have relaxing and meditative effects.