Oolong Tea: How This Centuries-Old Drink Could Make You Healthier

tea cup surrounded by roses
** DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physical trainer, or fitness nor mental health professional of any kind. All thoughts expressed in this content come from my personal opinions and experiences only. **

Not necessarily a black tea, green tea, or herbal tea, oolong tea is unique in its own right. But not everyone has heard of it.

Though we can’t be certain when the first oolong tea was made, some believe this tea dates back as far as the Tang Dynasty in China, between 618 and 907. 

If you already enjoy tea, or maybe you want to start liking tea more, oolong is definitely one to add to your tea cabinet. 

Not only does it have a smooth, pleasing taste, but oolong tea has also been shown to contain weight-loss inducing polyphenols, as well as healthy vitamins and minerals, all while having virtually no caloric content. 

If you want to learn more about oolong tea and how to drink it, just keep reading. 

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea is primarily grown in China, as well as in some parts of Taiwan. 

Though there are different kinds of oolong teas, most oolong blends have a smooth, semi-smokey, somewhat earthy taste. Think of oolong tea as a more mild, less dark version of black tea. 

What is special about oolong tea?

Interestingly enough, oolong tea leaves also come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is the same plant responsible for much of the green and black tea consumed around the world. This is why oolong tea is sometimes thought of as being a blend of the flavors of black and green teas. 

However, the uniqueness of oolong tea really comes from how the leaves are dried. Unlike other kinds of tea leaves, oolong leaves are first semi-oxidized and dried in the sun, before they are then moved on to being shade-dried. 

Then, they’re tossed to break down the surface cells of the leaves, which stops the oxidation process. After this, the leaves are processed over a heat source like wood or charcoal, which gives the tea some of its distinct flavor. 

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Oolong tea nutrition info

Like many teas, oolong tea by itself has no substantial daily nutritional value:

  • Calories: 0 kcals
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

However, though it doesn’t have any calories, oolong tea does contain some beneficial vitamins and minerals. Some of the vitamins and minerals found in oolong leaves include:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Fluoride 

Does oolong tea make you sleepy?

Because of the caffeine content in oolong tea, it will not make you sleepy. The amount of caffeine in oolong tea is approximately ⅓ less than that in a cup of coffee, which makes it a decent pick-me-up drink with additional health benefits.

However, oolong tea could still help you relax because it contains an amino acid called theanine. Thus, drinking oolong tea right before bed may not be a great idea, but it could still help you to calm down. 

Some research suggests that drinking oolong tea regularly could help you develop a tolerance to the caffeine and, thus, not be bothered by the stimulating effects of the drink if you want to use it to relax. 

However, if you’re looking for a tea to drink right before bed, it would likely be better to have a caffeine-free herbal tea instead. 

Does oolong tea help you lose weight?

A number of different studies have suggested that oolong tea could help support weight loss. The main weight loss benefits of oolong tea are believed to come from the metabolism-boosting polyphenols in the beverage. 

These same polyphenols are also thought to have the potential to reduce the amount of fat that your body absorbs from food, as well as possibly help you burn additional calories throughout the day. 

In fact, one new study from the University of Tsukuba found that oolong tea could even help people burn fat while they sleep

And, in addition to its weight loss support, oolong tea can aid in preventing cancer and diabetes, as well as improve your overall heart health. 

How to drink oolong tea

Like any other tea, oolong tea is made by steeping a tea bag or tea strainer filled with loose-leaf tea in hot water. 

For oolong tea, the recommended steeping time is approximately 4 minutes, or somewhere in the 3 to 5 minute range. The longer you steep your tea, the more caffeine the tea will have. So, if drinking oolong tea before bed, less steeping time would likely be better.

Personally, I also like my oolong tea with a little bit of almond milk or heavy cream mixed into it to bring out its smooth, woody flavors. 

How do you like your oolong tea? 

Do you prefer to drink it black? Or with cream and sugar? Share how you like your oolong tea in the comments section below!