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China Tea ep. 22 – Oolong Tea | Sunday Tea Book | Sip-a-long – Rou Gui

Oolong Tea

Oolong is also known as slimming tea, a beauty and health booster. It’s great for digestion, diuretics, anti-allergy and anticancer.

Sneak Peak

Oolong tea, also known as qing cha, is a partially oxidized tea. The process of oolong tea combines positive aspects of the green tea and black tea processes. The leaves remain green with a red ring. The taste has rich brisk and fresh characteristics of green tea as well as the sweetness and richness of black tea. It was invented around the 17th century in the Wuyi area.


Rou Gui


Dry Leaf: chocolaty, hints of fruit
Liquor Colour: deep amber red
Liquor Aroma: gentle cinnamon
Flavour: rocky, woody, cinnamon
Mouth Feel: thick, lingering, full
Bottom Cup: rocky, dry, caramel
Gaiwan Lid: Creamy floral

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The process

The oolong tea process can be summarized as withering (wei diao, 萎凋), shaking (zuo qing, 做青), pan-firing (chao qing, 炒青), rolling (rou nian, 揉捻), and drying (gan zao, 干燥). Shaking is the key step in making oolong tea, deciding the quality features and the base of its taste and aroma.

After withering, the leaves are shaken in the machine. During this process, the leaves hit each other and the edges of the leaves are bruised, encouraging oxidation and provoking a series of chemical and biological changes. The cells on the edge of the leaves are broken and oxidized, making the leaf edge look red. The center of the leaf also changes color, from green to a yellowish-green. This is called “green leaf with red edge” (lü ye hong xiang bian, 绿叶红镶边).


Varying from different regions, the liquor of oolong tea ranges from bright, light yellow, to orange, all the way to a ruby-ish deep orange. The greener the dried leaves, the lighter the oxidization level, and the lighter the liquor color. Accordingly, the darker green, reddish-brown, or lusterous black the dried leaves, the deeper the liquor color.


Oolong is a partially oxidized tea with strict plucking standards. Many oolongs are about 20% oxidized, keeping the freshness of green tea, while the oxidization also gives it the rich aroma and taste of black tea. Benefiting from both sides, oolong has won many people’s hearts.

Types of Oolong Tea

Minbei Oolong: Wuyi yan cha, Minbei Shui Xian, Wuyi Rou Gui etc.

Minnan Oolong: Anxi Tie Guan Yin, Qi Lan, Ben Shan Oolong, Huang Jin Gui, etc.

Guangdong Oolong: Fenghuang Dan Cong, Fenghuang Shui Xian, Raoping oolong. 

Taiwan Oolong: Dong Ding Oolong, Wenshan Bao Zhong, etc.

Grades of oolong

Good oolong

Appearance: Tie Guan Yin leaves look thick and sturdy, curved and round; Shui Xian leaves are tight and sturdy, twisted straight lines.

Luster: various shades of green with radiance.

Aroma: floral

Liquor color: gold or orange-gold, bright.

Taste: thick and rich, refreshing, vivid, and agile.

Brewed leaves: a green leaf with a red edge. The vein and the edge are lustrous red, while the rest is yellowish-green.

Bad oolong

Appearance: rough and loose, “light”

Luster: dull brown or red.

Aroma: smoky, burnt, grassy, or other odors.

Liquor color: green tinge, dull red, cloudy.

Taste: thin with bitterness and astringency

Brewed leaves: dull and dark.

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