Oolong is neither a black tea nor a green tea; it falls into its own category of tea. Yet an oolong may end up with more black tea characteristics or more green tea characteristics depending on the direction the tea master takes in the processing of the tea. The biggest difference between oolong tea and black or green teas? Oxidation and shape. Oolong tea falls somewhere in between green and black tea and is often described as a partially oxidized tea. Oolong teas are traditionally rolled, twisted or curled into tight balls or thin strands. These artisanal shaping techniques depend on the traditions of the tea master making the tea.
Because styles of oolongs vary so much, steeping temperature and time can vary as well. Generally, oolongs are steeped anywhere between 180 and 200 degrees for 60 seconds to 3 minutes.
Using about 2 grams (1 teaspoon) of loose leaf tea per 8 oz. cup of water is a safe bet.
Always start with fresh, pure, cold filtered water when you brewing tea. Spring water is the best.
Cover your tea while it steeps to keep all the heat in the steeping vessel.
Most oolong teas are designed to steep multiple times. Each steeping unfurls the rolled or twisted leaves just a little more, revealing even more layers of the flavor profile intended by the tea master who created the tea. It is not uncommon to get 3 to 5 infusions out of a high-quality oolong.
Avoid over steeping your oolong tea. Many oolongs are designed to taste best with multiple short infusions. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.