Oolong tea has most of the health benefits of green tea and most of the health benefits of black tea, so it is a good choice for people who want a happy medium between the two.
Oolong tea is made from the same type of tea bush as green and black tea, but black tea is oxidized 30% to 90% more than oolong tea. Oxidization is also known as “fermenting” (although it is not the same process as traditional fermenting). Green teas are not fermented at all.
Fermenting causes the tea leaves to change to a darker color. It also changes the taste and chemical composition of the tea. In particular, tea that has been fermented loses catechins (also known as tannins, the beneficial compounds in red wine), which are antioxidants that help remove free radicals from the body and can prevent cancer. White and green teas have the most catechins, but oolong tea does have more than black tea (which has very little).
However, fermenting increases the amounts of other antioxidants in tea, so black tea has theaflavins and thearubigins, both with disease-fighting properties; while green tea has very little or none. Oolong tea has smaller amounts than black tea, but it does have some.
The Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce aging processes, so drinking them might keep you looking and feeling younger. They can fight cancer as well by mopping up free radicals before they can damage the body. Tea also contains caffeine, which has been shown to reduce headaches, as well as promote healthy weight loss.
Oolong tea is also gaining a reputation as a weight loss tea. While it is probably not as effective as some people have claimed, it has been shown to increase the metabolism and block fat absorption. Studies have also shown it to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinkers of a cup per day are 46% less likely to develop high blood pressure, and it increases to 65% at two cups per day.
Oolong can also have a beneficial effect on allergies, as well as eczema. It has even been demonstrated that drinking oolong tea can inhibit the streptococci bacteria in your mouth, and drinking it can reduce plaque and cavities (even more than by drinking black or green tea). It is possible drinking oolong tea will also protect you from sunburn and even from depression.
Oolong tea is also steeped in a lower water temperature (below boiling) than black tea, which can help reduce the odds of esophageal cancer (which is associated with frequently drinking very hot drinks).
Drinking oolong tea with milk is not recommended, as some of the health effects may be negated. Oolong tea has many of the health benefits of other teas and is also a delicious and comforting hot drink.