by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Not really into green tea? While many people find it delicious, some aren’t a fan. If that’s you, no worries, there’s a tea that might just be your cup of tea — oolong tea.
Oolong tea comes from the same Camellia sinensis leaves as green and black tea. Unlike green (unfermented) and black (fully fermented) teas, oolong sits comfortably in between. Its color varies from green to dark brown, depending on its aging process. As for the taste? It’s light and flowery but not as fragrant as green tea.
Although oolong makes up only about 2% of global tea production, it’s worth exploring.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the health benefits of oolong tea to help you better understand if it’s something you want to add into your daily drink rotation.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition.
What is Oolong Tea?
Way back in the Ming dynasty, monks living on China’s Songluo Mountain stumbled upon a delicious trick. By allowing tea leaves to partially oxidize before pan-firing, they created a rich, fragrant tea — and that’s how Oolong tea got its name. This tasty tea gained speedy fame, even getting Emperor Hongwu’s stamp as an Imperial favorite. Today, it’s a beloved Chinese tea worldwide.
Oolong tea is a popular choice in China and Taiwan, where tea is a big part of culture and socializing. Meetings between friends and business partners often revolve around tea. While all true tea comes from the same plant, the magic happens during harvesting and processing. Oolong is semi-fermented, unlike black tea, which is fully fermented.
Tea also varies in antioxidants. Green tea boasts lots of catechins, while black tea holds theaflavins and thearubigins. Oolong tea stands in the middle for antioxidants.
When it comes to caffeine, green and oolong tea share similar amounts — around 10 to 60 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. Coffee, just for comparison, packs 70 to 130 mg in the same size.
Are you enjoying plain brewed tea? It’s like sipping on zero-calorie goodness — no fat, carbs, or protein.
7 Health Benefits of Oolong Tea
Below are some ways oolong tea can be beneficial for your health:
1. Helps in weight loss
Oolong tea does more than satisfy your taste buds. It revs up your metabolism, giving your fat-burning a boost due to its active polyphenols. These little powerhouses even act as blockers for fat-forming enzymes.
So, if shedding weight is on your mind, oolong tea can be a solid ally, just remember to skip the refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
2. Heart health
The polyphenols found in oolong tea do more than you might think. They kick-start an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides, a specific fat that circulates in your blood. These triglycerides play a role in thickening artery walls, increasing the chances of heart diseases like stroke and heart attacks.
That’s not all — studies point out that oolong tea can help lower cholesterol levels, too. High cholesterol is another risk factor for heart issues. So, sipping on oolong tea might just be a heart-smart choice.
3. Brain health
According to a review of research, Oolong tea has a key factor known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This same compound is also a star in green tea and is responsible for a bunch of its perks. Among those, it’s known to lend a hand in protecting against memory loss and cognitive decline.
So, if you’re seeking a memory boost, oolong tea might just hold some of the answers.
4. Improves gut microbiome
When the delicate balance of gut bacteria goes awry, it can set the stage for various health issues, including inflammatory bowel diseases, allergies, metabolic disorders, and even liver problems.
Oolong tea steps in as a potential hero, aiming to restore this balance by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. This can be particularly useful, especially when consuming a high-fat diet.
5. May prevent cancer risk
Experts in Taiwan studied the connection between tea consumption and the likelihood of head, neck, or throat cancer.
While each daily cup of oolong tea was linked to a 4 percent lower risk, this outcome didn’t hold strong significance. In comparison, each cup of daily green tea translated to a more noticeable 6 percent lower risk of head and neck cancer.
In another study involving Chinese women, the dots connected differently. This time, sipping on green, black, or oolong tea was tied to a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
6. Promotes healthy hair
Harnessing its impressive antioxidant content, oolong tea can potentially act as a shield against hair loss when used as a rinse from the brewed leaves. But its magic doesn’t stop there, it’s also a potential recipe for thicker and glossier hair.
7. Improves oral health
An in vitro study highlighted oolong tea’s potential, it came close to the effectiveness of chlorhexidine mouthwash in eliminating Streptococcus mutans, the pesky bacteria responsible for cavities.
Another study pointed out that oolong tea could lend a hand in cultivating a robust salivary microbiome. It works by boosting the presence of helpful bacteria.