Best Oolong Tea Reviewed and Tested

Oolong tea comes from the same plant as most varieties of green and black tea, Camellia sinensis. Oolong is a unique Chinese hybrid of green and black tea; it is not fully oxidized or fermented like black tea, nor is it completely un-oxidized like green tea.

Our Top 3 Picks

Prince of Peace, Premium Oolong Tea package
  • Prince of Peace, Premium Oolong Tea package
  • 5 out of 5
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Stash Tea, Premium Wuyi Oolong Tea, White Peach
  • Stash Tea, Premium Wuyi Oolong Tea, White Peach
  • 4.6 out of 5
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Hampstead Tea, Organic Fair Trade Oolong
  • Hampstead Tea, Organic Fair Trade Oolong
  • 4.1 out of 5
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Therefore, the taste and aroma ranges between the two types of teas. Most oolongs are whole leaf and not broken into little pieces like other teas. After drying, the tea is placed in special cloth sacks and gently moved about. This action affects the leaf slightly, causing some level of oxidation to occur. This process is repeated multiple times until the tea leaf takes on a dark spectrum of color.

best oolong tea

Oolong tea is only partially oxidized, anywhere from 30% (more like a green tea), and 70% (more like a black tea). After oxidation, the tea is fired under high heat to lock in the complex flavor. Shorter firing produces teas with a fruity flavor, while a longer firing will produce a rich amber cup with more “woody” notes. Because of the variety of production processes, the flavors of oolong vary widely as well.

10 Best Best Oolong Teas

 

1. Prince of Peace

1. Prince of Peace
Number 1 on our best Oolong tea list, this hand-picked, delightfully aromatic Oolong tea has a mild flavor and bright golden color. It is on the greener spectrum of Oolong teas.

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This product comes with 100 individually wrapped tea bags so you can enjoy Oolong for many days to come. Out of all the teas mentioned here, this tea is the best quality and best price for the large quantity you get.

Pros
  • Good price
  • Great quality
  • Mild flavor
Cons
  • May not suit everyone's taste

2. Stash with White Peach

2. Stash with White Peach
A unique Oolong tea with a juicy naturally sourced white-peach flavor. This type of teas is traditional and specific Chinese tea sometimes also called the “champagne of teas.”

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This tea comes from the fertile Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, where the climate is best suited to growing Oolong tea. Stash Tea Company ensures that their ingredient suppliers do not use barley malt in any of their tea blends, so this tea is great for gluten-free tea lovers.

Considering its inexpensive price tag, this product’s superior quality and excellent taste might surprise you.
Pros
  • Gluten-free
  • Inexpensive
  • Delicious taste
Cons
  • None

3. Hampstead Organic

3. Hampstead Organic
This USDA-certified organic, fair trade Oolong tea is perfect for environmentally- and health-conscious tea lovers. With Hampstead, you can be sure your tea was produced fairly and contains no GMOs, additives, or pesticides.

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Even the packaging is biodegradable. This tea is mild and sweet, so it’s more for those who dislike the strong and bitter taste of most Oolong varieties.

The Oolong used in this product is grown at Makaibari, the first biodynamic tea estate in the world, situated 3000-4000 ft high up in the Himalayas. Hampstead’s Oolong is very affordable considering it is both organic and fair trade. A well deserved 3rd place on our best Oolong tea list!
Pros
  • Contains no GMOs
  • No additives
  • No pesticides
  • The packaging is biodegradable 
Cons
  • May not suit everyone's taste

4. Uncle Lee’s Tea

4. Uncle Lee’s Tea
Uncle Lee’s Oolong Tea consists of high quality Oolong harvested from Fujian Province in China. This tea is not baked as long as dark Oolong, so the steeped tea has a light golden hue, a sweet floral aroma, a fresh initial flavor, and a delicious floral aftertaste that lingers in your mouth after each sip.

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The rich flavor and fragrant aroma of Uncle Lee’s Oolong results from the withering process during oxidation, which tumbles the tea and bruises the surface of the leaves. The withering process lets the tea soften, releasing enzymes that darken the tea leaves when they are exposed to air. When you buy this tea in bulk, you’ll pay a great price for a large amount of high-quality Oolong tea.

Pros
  • Sweet floral aroma
  • High quality tea
Cons
  • None

5. The Tao of Tea Green Dragon

5. The Tao of Tea Green Dragon
As you might guess from the name, Green Dragon is a greener Oolong with low oxidation. It is a smooth, golden infusion with grassy, toasty, and light floral notes.

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This tea is a little pricier than the bagged teas you find at the grocery store because of its high quality and large portion size, but the extra money is well worth it for this delicious and long-lasting Oolong tea.

When you consider that this tea is loose leaf, it’s actually quite affordable. Green Dragon tea is grown in the mountains of Anxi county in the Fujian province. Green Dragon (the Ben Shan varietal) is a young varietal grown primarily near the village of Raoyang in Anxi; it has strong, heavy branches and brightly colored, distinct, oval leaves.

To brew this Oolong tea, brew one teaspoon of leaves in 12 ounces of pure spring or filtered water at 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 minutes. You can steep this tea at least twice.
Pros
  • Golden infusion with grassy, toasty, and light floral notes
  • High quality
  • Large portion size
Cons
  • Somewhat expensive

6. Bigelow Classic

6. Bigelow Classic
For a classic Oolong tea, look no further than Bigelow’s inexpensive bagged tea. This tea is smooth, with a distinctive mellow taste. Many enjoy this slightly darker Oolong because it tastes like the hot tea served in many Chinese restaurants; in fact, Bigelow Oolong is indeed a popular choice for Chinese restaurants.

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To steep this tea, bring fresh cold water to a rolling boil. Then pour over the tea bag, steep for two minutes (or longer if you prefer stronger tea), and remove the bag without squeezing it. For iced tea by the glass, steep a little longer and pour it over ice.

Pros
  • Popular in Chinese restaurants
  • Distinctive mellow taste
  • Drink it how it cold
Cons
  • This tea may not suit everyone's taste

7. Irwin Naturals

7. Irwin Naturals
This Oolong and matcha tea formula combines four distinct varieties of tea, plus key botanicals from traditional Chinese medicine, to kickstart the metabolism and promote a healthy lifestyle. Matcha, a powdered green tea used in the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony, is high in antioxidants and can help the body burn four times as many calories.

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These liquid soft gel capsules contain Omega-3 oils, daily essential fatty acids, and concentrated tea extracts with detoxifying and immune-boosting properties. The powerful blend of botanicals revered in Chinese medicine, from Asian Ginseng to Brown Kelp, also help speed up the metabolism.

Irwin Naturals can also be trusted to provide you the purest and most potent product, as they employ compliance testing to ensure high quality. If you’re not much of a tea drinker, try taking these pills as a daily supplement to a healthy diet.
Pros
  • Kickstarts your metabolism
  • Promotes a healthier lifestyle
  • Powerful detox
Cons
  • Those who have a sensitive stomach should use with caution

8. Harney & Sons Iced Tea

8. Harney & Sons Iced Tea
Maybe you’re more of an iced tea drinker. If so, we’ve got you covered. This Harney & Sons blend uses extra large leaves of Ti Quan Yin Oolong, infused with tangy pomegranate. This fragrant Oolong tea is designed for making large 2-quart batches of iced tea. It’s a delicious option for those tired of boring old plain teas, and great for a hot summer day. For the amount of tea you get, it’s also very affordable.

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To brew this tea, boil 2 cups of water and pour over the tea bag in a gallon pitcher. Steep for 15 minutes, then fill with 6 cups of cold water. Remove the tea bag and gently squeeze it. Then pour over ice and garnish with slices of lemon or orange, or fresh mint leaves. A great choice on our best Oolong tea list.

Pros
  • Perfect for Ice tea lovers
  • Tangy pomegranate scent
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • Needs steeping for 15 minutes

9. Rishi Iron Goddess

9. Rishi Iron Goddess
This sought-after, traditional Oolong tea is named after Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
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This smooth, loose leaf Oolong blend has fruity notes of apricot and fig, as well as a warm hint of toffee and toasted buckwheat. The Iron Goddess tea from Rishi comes from Nantou, Taiwan. This package of tea makes about 30 cups of tea, which isn’t bad for the price. For the first infusion, Rishi recommends steeping for 3 minutes. After that? Re-steep for 4 minutes.
Pros
  • Fruity notes of apricot
  • Delicious full taste
  • Warm hint of toffee 
Cons
  • Needs re-steeping

10. Twinings 100% Pure

10. Twinings 100% Pure
This pure Oolong tea is a warm, robust way to start your morning. With toasty notes of citrus and a golden honey color, this medium-strength tea is the perfect inexpensive Oolong for those who don’t want to bother with loose leaf tea.

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The tea bags are individually sealed for freshness. For people that are new to tea, this Oolong is great because it’s sold by a trusted tea brand (Twinings has been in the tea business since 1706). Twinings also sells value packs with 120 tea bags for longtime fans of this particular tea blend. The recommended steep time for this Oolong is 3 minutes.

Pros
  • Citrucy taste
  • Inexpensive
  • Tea bags
Cons
  • None

Why You Should Drink Oolong

In a way, oolongs are the most cheffy teas out there. While good growing conditions certainly matter, the quality of an oolong is largely dependent on the skill of the person processing it. Get something wrong and a batch may reek of grandma’s perfume or taste as charred as a blackened steak. Get it right, though, and you have a tea with marvelous complexity, one that develops and evolves in your cup more than any black or green tea. Some oolongs can be steeped a dozen times or more, and by the time you’re finished, the final steep may feel like it’s from a totally different tea. (Try that with your English breakfast and all you’ll get is brown water.)

Origins of Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is mainly produced in China and Taiwan, but other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Sri Lanka also produce some oolong. Taiwanese tea plantations have high elevations, which result in an ideal climate for producing oolong tea. Most oolong teas can be steeped multiple times, and each steeping produces a unique flavor profile. Some tea drinkers even prefer the taste of the second or third infusions.

Oolong’s predecessor, a traditional type of tea called Beiyuan tea, originated in the Fujian province of China more than a thousand years ago. Beiyuan tea was one of the first known tribute tea produced in that province. A tribute tea was given in tribute to the emperor or his royal family.

drinking oolong tea

It is one of the best known teas produced during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE). The Beiyuan area is located near the Wuyi Mountains in that province and has been producing tea since the earlier Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE).

The Beiyuan tea leaves were compressed into bakery items like cakes. When this style of tea was not trendy anymore with the royalty, Fujian instead began producing a partially oxidized tea leaf in lose from, which became the original Oolong tea. The name comes from the Chinese “wu long,” which means “black dragon tea.” According to a Chinese folktale, the man who accidentally discovered Oolong tea by leaving his tea leaves out in the sun too long was named Wu Long (or “Oolong”).

In the early 1900s, the British ambassador to China dedicated some Oolong tea to the Queen of England. She was impressed by the unique taste and aroma, as well as its distinctive greenish color, and gave it the nickname “Oriental Beauty.”

Taiwanese Oolong

In the early 1800s, a Fujian merchant of teas brought some tea seeds to Taiwan to see if the plants would take root there. The tea proved successful, so Taiwanese tea production quickly expanded. For a very long time, the majority of the tea that grew was sent back to the original province. In 1868, a British man decided to increase efficiency by hiring tea masters to start processing tea in the capital of Taiwan. This decision was a success, so the following year the British man shipped 127 tons of Oolong (then called “Formosa tea” to the U.S., where it became popular. Since then, this tea has been Taiwan’s most exported variety of tea.

Health Benefits of Oolong

Like all tea, Oolong tea contains strong antioxidants, which help strengthen the immune system. Since green tea is processed the least, however, it contains a little more catechin. The antioxidant content decreases as tea is oxidized, but the levels of certain elements increase.

These two substances, which can help with allergies, reduce inflammation, and possibly reduce the risk of cancer, are found in higher concentrations in black tea and oolong tea for this reason. Some studies suggest theaflavins and thearubigins are as effective as the catechins in other types of  tea, but all types of tea have similar types of effects and will provide equivalent health benefits in the end.

Oolong tea helps boost the metabolism, causing it to burn up to four times as many calories. It also contains polyphenols, which trigger the enzymes responsible for reducing excess triglycerides (or fats). As long as you combine drinking Oolong with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can lose weight by regularly consuming unsweetened Oolong tea. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, consider using a small amount of sugars low on the glycemic index instead of sugar, such as raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, or agave syrup.

Caffeine Content

If Oolong is a mixture of black and green teas, which have widely different caffeine contents, how much caffeine does a cup of your typical Oolong contain? It’s difficult to estimate exactly because Oolong teas vary so much in oxidation and caffeine content. However, The Journal of Food Science recently tested several varieties of Oolong tea and found that they contained anywhere from 16 to 55 mg of caffeine per cup. That’s still much lower than black teas, but they definitely contain more caffeine than green or white teas.

How to Brew Oolong Tea

To brew loose leaf Oolong tea, heat water to 200 degrees F, or let it boil. Place 1 scooped teaspoon for every 6-ounce cup in the teapot or mug and let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes. Remember, you can steep Oolong tea several times, so feel free to simultaneously increase the water content once you’ve finished the first cup, until the tea flavor is eliminated. To make iced Oolong tea, steep it using the same process listed above, but remove the tea leaves with a strainer and add ice cubes.