Webster apparently wasn't a tea drinker.

Oolong teas are divine. They generally have a subtle taste. Some would even say sublime. Many oolongs have an almost flowery taste.

Webster is also sorta wrong about what oolong actually means. It does have properties of both black teas and green teas, but it is not technically a black tea. To understand, you need to know a little about how tea is made.

Tea is a leafy plant. The leaves are what most people think of when they think of tea, because they are the part of the plant used to make a tasty beverage. (Well, unless you're buying cheap tea that has some stems and garbage like that. Or you're drinking a so-called herbal tea which uses roots or bark. Those aren't really tea, because they're not of the Camellia Senensis plant.) Anyway, to make tea, those leaves are dried, and then infused into boiling water.

The difference in the types of tea comes about during the drying process. Black teas are black because of the oxidation that occurs as their (originally green) leaves dry. Green teas are dried without allowing the tea leaves to oxidize, and so they keep their green color (and a somewhat different flavor). Oolong teas oxidize more than green teas, but not as much as black teas. This way they get the delicious bouquet of a green tea while gaining the strength of a black tea.

To sum up: oolong tea is very good. But then, so is tea in general.

Black Dragon Tea

Oolong (or Wulong) is my favourite class of teas; I have yet to find an Oolong that isn't great. It is inexplicably difficult to find any Oolong in Britain, although you can sometimes find it in cans (Oolong is good chilled as well as hot). Although somewhere between green tea and black tea in terms of the way it is made, its taste and aroma are all its own.

The first syllable, (wu) can mean 'a crow, rook or raven' in other contexts, but here it means black. Long is dragon, and the leaves look a little like curled-up black dragons which wake up when you pour hot water on them; but according to legend the name originally had nothing to do with dragons, black or otherwise - rather, it is named after its discoverer Wu Liang; Wu Liang is a homophone for Oolong in south Fujian dialect.

As the story has it, Wu Liang went out picking tea one day, as he did every day in the tea-picking season. After collecting a good load, his eye was caught by a river deer and he stopped to slay the beast. Having taken it home to prepare it, he left the tea to one side and forgot about it. The next day he found that the tea had started to blacken (oxidise); he was worried that it might have gone bad, but he didn't want to let good tea go to waste so he got on with preparing it anyway. Once he had dried it in the traditional way, by heating, he made a cup and found to his surprise that it tasted great: Mellow and unfamiliar. He taught his neighbours how to make the tea, and it came to be named after him; language being what it is the Wu Liang/Wu Long distinction was lost in a few generations, and that's why today we know it as Oolong.

On average a cup of Oolong has about half the caffeine of a cup of black tea, and most of the antioxidants of green tea. Teas coming under the general heading of Oolong include Pouchong (almost green), Bai Hao Oolong ('White Hair Black Dragon,' a relatively strong Oolong), Silvertip Oolong (a quite sharp, leafy tea), Shui Hsien ('Water Sprite,' a light and flowery tea) and the excellent Ti Kuan Yin ('Iron Goddess of Mercy'). Taiwan (Formosa), Fujian and Guandong are known as the producers of much of the world's finest Oolong.

Like green tea, Oolong should be brewed with water several degrees below boiling point for best results, and one set of leaves can be used to make several brews. The traditional way of making and serving Oolong is known as gongfu cha, and requires a dedicated tea set; this is undoubtedly the best way, especially when dealing with the finer grades of Oolong, but if you don't have the requisite equipment and you are not afraid of the scorn of Chinese tea connoisseurs, an ordinary teapot does the job well enough.

Oolong was also the hero of the classic 80s Konami fighting game Yie Ar Kung-Fu and a character from a book called Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy. As noted elsewhere in this node, it is also the name of a character from the anime series Dragonball, and of a food-wearing rabbit from Japan, but it's the tea that I'm named after. The Oolong Tea node will tell you a bit more about why, and it houses the Oolong Tea song I wrote.

Oolong is also a character from Akira Toriyama's anime series, Dragonball. For Americans, Oolong appears in the TV series Dragonball Z, but he plays a very minor role.

Oolong was originally discovered early in the Dragonball series by Goku and Bulma. A lazy shapeshifter, Oolong was terrorizing the citizens of a town by appearing as a demon. The catch is that he can only remain shape-changed for a few minutes, since he was kicked out of "shapeshifter school" (as Yamcha's shapeshifting companion Puar tells us). After "saving" the village from the demon and finding out what Oolong really was, Bulma forces the pig to travel with them, much to his discontent.

As far as I know, the only thing this character does in Dragonball Z is try to look up girls' skirts (though Cartoon Network omits most of those parts) and worry about how the next world disaster is going to affect him.

Note: because of poor translation, Oolong may appear as Oorong, Oulong, or Ourong. Most of the subtitles I've seen use Oolong, as do the English dubs.
Oolong, the pancake balancing rabbit was born in late 1994 and lived in Hokkaido Japan and died on January 7, 2003.

His owner, Hironori Akutagawa, liked to take pictures of his rabbit balancing things on his head, playing in the snow, posing with bunny related trinkets and being in someone's lap.

Around August 2001, Oolong gained some nano-notoriety when non-Japanese speakers happened along his website and confused his balancing acts with animal abuse.

Oolong's owner discovered that his rabbit had an interesting ability to balance odd objects on his head, and started taking pictures of Oolong in 1998.

Some things Oolong has balanced on his head :

Sometimes Oolong's owner just took pictures of him eating things and lying around.

You can see pictures of Oolong at http://www.fsinet.or.jp/~sokaisha/rabbit/rabbit.htm

"Rest in peace my furry pastry-laden friend." :(

Most Americans will encounter hot oolong tea when they visit their local Chinese restaurant for a sit-down meal. The slightly bitter, slightly sweet tea served up before the meal is usually oolong.

In most cities, you can find a wide variety of oolong teas at your local Asian supermarket. Always get a package that's labeled in both English and Chinese: the best oolong teas are the ones targeted at Chinese people. I personally like Foojoy tea bags, which cost around $2.50 for a box of 100.

You can drink oolong hot, or you can drink it cold. In Japan (and presumably other Asian countries), oolong tea is brewed and sold in cans, which can be heated during the winter months or chilled during the summer months. In the US, cold oolong tea is rarely seen: a shame, in my lofty opinion.

Because oolong is in the twilight zone between black tea and green tea, it doesn't taste right if you make it with boiling water or cold water. The best way to make oolong tea is with hot water, at about the same temperature as hot tap water.

In the summertime, you can make very tasty oolong sun tea in a matter of minutes by placing three or four bags in a transparent pitcher, filling the pitcher with hot tap water, and placing it in the sunlight until the water has turned a murky shade of brown. Refrigerate it until it's nice and cold, and then drink it without ice (to keep the flavor intact).

A pitcher of cold oolong tea is the first step in overcoming your addiction to soda, and a pot of hot oolong tea is the first step in burning your ass up with General Tso's Chicken.

Oolong himself tells me that the water should be hotter, although I've found that it doesn't need to be ridiculously hot... just steamy. Albert Herring is repulsed by the idea of using tap water, as any herring should rightfully be. My way is just what I like; feel free to find your own.

Oo"long (?), n. [Chinese, green dragon.]

A fragrant variety of black tea having somewhat the flavor of green tea.

[Written also oulong.]


© Webster 1913.

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