Oolong Tea and Health Benefits

In China, oolong tea is used as a traditional herbal medicine and enjoyed as a popular beverage. Since its introduction to the western world in the 19th century, oolong tea continues to gain popularity because of its health benefits. This tea is cultivated from the plant, Camellia sinensis, and undergoes a semi-oxidation process. After the leaves are plucked, oxygen begins to react with the tea leaves. The uniqueness of oolong tea is attributed to the control of oxidation. This is achieved by firing and roasting the leaves to stop oxidation.

Weight Management

In the Chinese culture, drinking oolong tea is believed to reduce body fat and maintain your weight. It is thought to increase your rate of metabolism, aid your body in the conversion of fat into energy and has absorption-blocking potential. Oolong tea is low in calories and carbohydrates. Oolong contains less caffeine than black tea but more than green tea.

Antioxidant Protection

All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Likewise, all tea contains polyphenols, which are chemicals with antioxidant properties. Some polyphenols are destroyed during the fermentation process of tea. Oolong tea is processed less than black tea but more than green tea. The polyphenols retained in oolong tea protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from surrounding molecules and disrupt the normal function of your body's cells. An accumulation of free radicals has been linked to cardiovascular disease, accelerated aging and several types of cancer.

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

A group of researchers in Taiwan studied the effect of oolong tea consumption on blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The team, lead by Kazuaki Hosoda, B.S. divided the test patients into two groups. All participants followed the same rules except one group drank about 1.5 quarts of oolong tea each day while the control group drank water. After four weeks, the Taiwanese researchers noted that drinking oolong tea in conjunction with taking anti-hyperglycemic medications significantly lowered the blood sugar levels of the patients.

Does Oolong Tea Help You Lose Weight?

Oolong, or wu long, tea is a product of Camelia sinensis, also known as the tea bush. Oolong tea is produced by partially oxidizing the tea leaves before drying them. Similar to other teas, oolong tea contains caffeine as well as beneficial antioxidants. Recent research shows oolong tea may help prevent obesity and aid in weight loss.


Oolong literally means "black dragon," however, this tea got its name from the man who discovered it, Wu Liang. According to the old story, Wu Liang was out picking tea leaves one day when he spotted a river deer and decided to hunt it. When he arrived home, he was preoccupied by preparing the deer and forgot about the tea leaves he had picked. A couple of days later, he stumbled upon the tea leaves, which had turned color, and decided to dry and prepare them. The cup of tea he made had a unique and interesting flavor that quickly became popular among his neighbors.

Brewing Method

Oolong tea should be brewed using water that is not quite boiling. The traditional method of brewing oolong tea is called gongfu cha, which translates to "a lot of work tea." The Chinese traditionally brew oolong tea by filling a small clay teapot about a third full of dried oolong tea leaves. Then they pour hot water over the tea leaves and immediately empty the water. The pot is filled again with nearly boiling water and set to steep for a few minutes before being served.


Oolong tea, like many other teas, contains caffeine. It is difficult to state how much caffeine is in a single cup of oolong tea because it is somewhat dependent on the brewing process. The caffeine in oolong tea "enhanced noradrenaline-induced lipolysis in fat cells." The study involved treating diet-induced obese mice with oolong tea for 10 weeks. The study concluded the anti-obesity effectiveness of oolong tea is partially the result of the caffeine content and its effect of the adipose tissues, or fat tissues.

Resting Energy Expenditure

The Department of Applied Nutrition at the University of Tokushima School of Medicine discovered oolong tea directly affects the body's resting energy expenditure, or REE. Researchers provided 11 young Japanese women, of average weight, with either water, oolong tea or green tea. Two hours later, they measured the women's REE with an indirect calorimeter and discovered the women who drank oolong tea had an increase in their REE of 10 percent, while the women who drank the green tea had a 4 percent increase in their REE. The women who drank water showed no increase in REE. When compared with green tea, oolong tea contains half the amount of caffeine with more than double the polymerized polyphenols. Researchers concluded the increase in REE after oolong tea consumption is the result of the tea's high level of polymerized polyphenols.

Weight Loss

Losing excess weight lowers your risk for such health complications as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Although oolong tea has shown weight-loss properties, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to help lose weight in a healthy manner and keep it off. If you are trying to lose excess weight, speak with your doctor about nutrition, exercise and the assistance of oolong tea to reach your weight-loss goals.

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