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Best Oolong Tea: The 5 Most Popular Oolong Teas

Posted by Angelina Kurganska on

What is your favorite tea type? For many, the answer is — oolong! However, what is oolong tea? Furthermore, what makes oolong so popular and delicious? Perhaps its multidimensionality, the variety present within this single tea category. For example, a lightly roasted oolong has a resemblance most similar to green teas. On the other hand, a dark roasted oolong resembles black tea. Nevertheless, it is neither. It is in between and one of a kind.


Briefly, What Is Oolong Tea?  

The Way of Tea
A friend presented me
With tender leaves of Oolong tea,
For which I chose a kettle
Of ivory-mounted gold,
A mixing bowl of snow-white earth.
With its clear, bright froth and fragrance,
It was like the nectar of Immortals.
The first bowl washed the cobwebs from my mind -
The whole world seemed to sparkle.
A second cleansed my spirit
Like purifying showers of rain.
A third and I was one of the Immortals -
What need now for austerities
To purge our human sorrows?
Worldly people, by going in for wine,
Sadly deceive themselves.
For now I know the Way of Tea is real.

— Chio Jen (Tang Dynasty) 

Oolong tea has existed for over 1000 years.

From Chinese, oolong translates as Black Dragon. It is a fairly oxidized tea that sits in between green tea and black tea. 
The processing involves certain degrees of withering, rolling, shaking, bruising, and firing. Then, the resulting amount of oxidation depends on the desired finish of the tea. For example, this can be a lightly fermented oolong tea, like delicate-tasting green tea. Or one which is almost fully fermented, like dark and bold flavored black teas.

Today the areas which are most famous for producing oolong are Fujian and Guangdong in China, and Taiwan.

alishan oolong

Best Oolong Tea: The 5 Most Popular Oolong Teas 

  • Milk Oolong 
Surely, almost everyone somewhat acquainted with oolongs has heard about this magical tea — Milk Oolong. Well, of course, the name sounds so intriguing. Undoubtedly, it's so sweet and creamy. Furthermore, many a legend claims that this type of oolong tea is steamed in the sweet, creamy milk of Taiwan’s finest grass-fed grazing cows. Nope. The fact is, it all has to do with the cultivar — the Jin Xuan tea bush. Furthermore, the precise processing methods that the tea farmers utilize. The result — a fresh, slightly floral, slightly grassy oolong tea with an aroma reminiscent of sweet cream or milk. Indeed, if done right, this tea has no comparison. However, beware of artificially flavored milk oolong. This tea, in particular, is especially acclaimed in Taiwan, where the farmers have perfected its processing techniques. Read more.
  • Dong Ding Oolong Also known as Frozen Summit Oolong tea. Surely, this is yet another very popular lightly oxidized oolong coming from Taiwan. It grows at an altitude of 1000 meters and above: the result — a strong, easily recognizable fresh taste with a delectably sweet aftertaste. Most importantly, have you gotten tea drunk off of Dong Ding Oolong Tea yet!?
  • Da Hong Pao Otherwise known as Big Red Robe Wuyi Oolong. Being one of our absolute favorites, this tea is exactly what it sounds like — a comforting big red robe of delicious sweet roasted flavor and an unmistakable mineral taste. Undoubtedly, many of China’s poets have tried describing this magical quality it possesses — the rock rhyme or yan yun. In short, it is the gracefulness of this Wuyi oolong tea. Furthermore, the elegant connection between all of the tea’s qualities. We too tried writing about it; however, the best way to find out what we’re talking about would be to taste it for yourself. 
  • Duck Shit Oolong Otherwise known as Ya Shi Xiang Dan Cong Oolong. Honestly, we think the name alone makes this tea deserving of a taste! Not to mention, it is one of the most popular teas from the famous Dan Cong Oolong family, where each tea mimics a particular flower. Duck Shit oolong tea, thankfully, doesn’t mimic what it sounds like. On the opposite, a tea farmer who discovered this incredible aromatic tea developed this clever story to trick people into thinking that he uses duck shit in the soil. Hence, they wouldn’t be interested in drinking it. Read more about this fun legend and the delicious tea that came from it here

yixing clay teapot

Choosing The Right Teaware For Your Oolong

If you wish to drink your oolong tea gong fu style, we recommend using a gaiwan or the following yixing teapot:

For Light Oolongs:

  • Round and tall teapots with thin walls
    Undoubtedly, round teapots are perfect for rounding out and mellowing teas, making them sweeter. They also ensure that rolled oolongs have enough room to expand.

For Dark Oolongs:

  • Flat teapots with thick walls work best
    Because darker teas require longer brewing times, the tea leaves rest on the bottom, releasing all their best qualities.

It is preferable sticking to one tea type per teapot. Thus, allowing for it to develop its own tea oil coating.