What is Oolong Tea? & 12 Top Health Benefits, Side Effects

History of Oolong Tea Oolong's predecessor - Beiyuan tea Oolong..

What is Oolong Tea? & 12 Top Health Benefits, Side Effects

History of Oolong Tea

Oolong’s predecessor – Beiyuan tea

Oolong tea began life in Fujian province. With a history there stretching back more than 1,000 years to an traditional form of tea called Beiyuan tea. 

Beiyuan tea was the earliest known tribute tea (a tea given in tribute to the emperor or royal family) produced in Fujian. And one of the most well known teas produced during the Song Dynasty. 

The Beiyuan area is located around Phoenix mountain in Fujian, and had been a tea producing area since the earlier Tang Dynasty. 

This tea was a compressed type of tea, with the leaves compressed into cakes. 

When these went out of fashion with the royalty the area began producing a partially oxidized loose leaf tea instead – the original Oolong tea.

The legendary story of Oolong tea

There is a separate legend about the origins of Oolong. 

During the Qing dynasty a tea farmer in Fujian was picking tea one day when he saw a deer. 

Deciding to hunt the deer instead of processing the picked tea, it was not until the next day that he got around to finishing the tea. 

However by that time the edges of the leaves had partially oxidized, and gave off a surprising good aroma. 

So deciding to finish the processing as usual, he was surprised to find that the resulting tea had a completely new strong sweet flavor. 

That didn’t have any of bitterness that was usually produced. 

This guy’s nickname was Oolong, and so the new tea was named after him.

What’s inside oolong tea?

Here’re the nutritional values of 1 serving of oolong tea.

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 10 mg
  • Calcium: 4%
  • Total Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Vitamin C: 100 %


Oolong Tea

Health Benefits Of Oolong Tea

The various health benefits of oolong tea are as follows:

Weight Management

The polyphenol compound found in oolong tea is very effective in controlling the metabolism of fat in the body and reduce obesity.

It activates certain enzymes, thereby enhancing the functions of fat cells in the body. It is commonly believed that daily consumption of oolong tea can reduce obesity.

More widespread studies need to be done on humans, but early studies are very promising.

In one animal study, mice that were given polyphenols in addition to a high-fat and high-sugar diet still showed a decline in overall body weight and fat index.

Some earlier studies actually showed that the caffeine content was the active ingredient behind the weight loss. But it now appears to be mainly due to polyphenols.

Apparently, the active components in oolong tea make fat work for you!

Removal of harmful free radicals

The polyphenolic compound in oolong tea is also responsible for the removal of free radicals in our body.

Because it functions as an antioxidant and stimulates the behavior of other free radical compounds in the body.

Therefore, consuming daily doses of oolong tea can help people against the potential harm that these free-moving cells often pose to the human body, including cancer, atherosclerosis, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegeneration, and diabetes.

Any antioxidant characteristic of food or drink is beneficial, but polyphenols are particularly powerful antioxidants in oolong tea.

Ovarian Cancer

Oolong tea is rich in anti-cancer properties.

And drinking oolong tea helps to significantly lower risk of developing ovarian cancer in women.

Healthy skin

According to scientific experiments, patients diagnosed with eczema can benefit from drinking 3 cups of oolong tea throughout the day.

The beneficial results of oolong tea could be seen in less than a week in these patients, who showed remarkable improvement in their skin. 

In a 2001 study, 54% of test subjects were found to show positive, long-lasting results in terms of skin conditions after 6 months of daily intake of oolong tea.

Atopic Dermatitis

Although the active mechanism has not been pinpointed exactly. 

Many believe that the polyphenols present in oolong tea also work as anti-allergenic compounds. 

Thereby relieving irritation and chronic skin problems, known as atopic dermatitis.

Healthy bones

The antioxidants present in oolong tea protect teeth against decay, strengthen the bone structure, prevent osteoporosis, and promote normal, healthy growth of the human body.

A number of studies analyzed the long term effects of drinking tea, particularly on bone mineral density (BMD).

It showed that people who consistently drank black or oolong tea for more than 10 years were tremendously less likely to lose their bone mineral density over that span of time.

It is thought that some of the components in tea actually stimulate the retention of minerals from other food that we consume.

Controls diabetes

Oolong tea is used as an herbal brew for treating type-2 diabetic disorders and as an addition to other supplementary drugs for treating that disease.

It regulates the amount of blood sugar and insulin that is in the bloodstream at any one time.

So the dangerous dips and spikes in blood sugar that can be so disastrous for diabetic patients can be reduced. 

A 2003 study showed that when combined with regular hyperglycemic drugs, oolong tea further balanced the blood sugar levels and prevented the sudden drops in almost all of the test subjects.

Anti-cancer properties

It is well-known fact that tea drinkers have a lower risk of getting skin cancer.

Moreover, polyphenolic compound in oolong tea promotes apoptosis in stomach related cancerous growths.

This polyphenol extract also acts as a chemo-preventive instrument against the development of other cancerous forms.

The compounds stifle the activation of carcinogenic cells, prevent the formation of N-nitroso compounds and trap genotoxic agents before they can become effective.

Stress management

In a detailed study conducted at the Osaka Institute for Health Care Science in Japan. The experimental mice that ingested oolong tea showed a remarkable improvement in their stress levels by 10 to 18 %.

The natural polyphenols in the oolong tea was cited as the main cause of it being such a stress-buster.

Also, the L-theanine found in tea leaves is an amino acid that blocks L-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain.

This would normally cause cortical neuron excitement. Which leads to increased cognitive activity and neural stress responses.

Since this amino acid binds to those sites, excitation doesn’t occur, and stress decreases because you are able to keep your mind at rest more.

Mental performance and health

Health benefits of oolong tea include improved mental performance and alertness.

Regular intake of caffeine rich oolong tea may help in improving mental performance and maintaining alertness throughout the day.

Treatment Of Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin disease characterized by itching, redness, swelling, scarring and, sometimes, infection of lesions due to frequent scratching.

Research has shown that patients who combine dermatological treatment for this condition along with the consumption of at least 3 cups of oolong tea a day experience more relief than patients who do not consume this tea.

Anti–Aging Benefits

The continuous exposure of the skin to free radicals accelerates the process of aging and slows down the rate of exfoliation. 

Resulting in the premature occurrence of wrinkles and dark spots.

The high levels of antioxidants present in oolong tea slow down the oxidation of cells, leading to a much healthier-looking skin.

Prevention Of Hair Loss

The antioxidants present in oolong tea are known to ensure proper metabolism of the male hormone, DHT, as any change in its metabolic activity results in hair loss.

Making a tea rinse with these leaves is of great benefit in preventing the excessive shedding of hair.

Prevents Tooth Decay

Oolong tea improves the oral health by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay and oral cancers.

The antioxidants called polyphenols present in oolong tea contribute to the improvement of dental health and hygiene.

Drinking oolong tea helps to prevent the build-up of plaque, fights tooth decay and deters the occurrence of cavities.

Nutritional Value Of Oolong Tea

Tea is a natural gift that is rich in antioxidants.

It also contains vital vitamins and minerals such as calcium, manganese, copper, carotin, selenium, and potassium, as well as vitamin A,vitamin B,vitamin C,vitamin E and vitamin K.

Additionally, it contains folic acid, niacin amide and other detoxifying alkaloids.

It is developed in semi-fermented processing, providing the oolong tea with numerous polyphenolic compounds, adding even more valuable health benefits to oolong tea.

Oolong tea also contains caffeine, theophylline and theobromine (which are similar to caffeine) that on consumption may stimulate nervous system.

A Word Of Caution:

Oolong tea is a wonder tea as is evident from the range of benefits it offers. However, it is wise to exercise caution and consume it in moderation.

Since this tea contains a certain amount of caffeine. 

Drinking too much of it can cause side effects ranging from mild to serious headaches, nervousness, irritable bowel syndrome, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, heartburn etc.

It is advisable for pregnant women to keep a tab on the number of cups of tea they consume in a day as too much of caffeine might harm the baby.

Keep these pointers in mind and go ahead and enjoy your cuppa!

How much of oolong tea should I drink?

It’s important to consume oolong tea in moderation because it contains a certain amount of caffeine.

Two cups of oolong tea is recommended. If possible, one in the morning and one in the afternoon; so it won’t affect your sleep.

Consuming too much caffeine can result in side effects including headaches, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, irregular heartbeat and inflammation.

And too much oolong can upset stomach and decrease the effectiveness of medications.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or having serious medical condition that is affected by caffeine consumption. Talk to your doctor first before consuming it.

How to drink?

The easiest way is to add boiling water to a cup of oolong tea—either in teabag form or a level tablespoon of loose leaves.

As a general rule of thumb, for 6 ounces of water, use 1 teaspoon if the tea is rolled into balls and up to 2 tablespoons if it consists of large open leaves.

Then, steep for 2–5 minutes, depends on how strong you want the flavor to be. Enjoy the tea while it’s still hot, it’s better.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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