A guide to three types of oolong teas

Oolongs can vary widely in taste, from sweet and fruity, to dark and roasted, to green and fresh with complex aromas. Much care is put into the process to create oolong teas, and they are often some of the most prized teas to drink. Generally speaking, there are three types: Green Oolong, Medium Roast oolong and Dark Oolong. 

'Green' Oolong

Flavor profile: Fresh and fragrant
Oxidation level: Low
Roasting: Light

Green oolongs can look a lot like green tea. They're usually green, though a little darker than green tea leaves, and their twisted or rolled-ball shapes (as opposed to needle-like flat leaves) is a sign that you're dealing with an oolong. Similar to green tea, green oolongs taste fresh and bright, and can manifest refreshing vegetal and sunny-sweet flavors. But a kick of oxidation tends to bring out more floral characteristics, a rich, buttery body that lingers on your palate, and a rounded, airy quality more complex than your typical green.

The most noteworthy producer of green oolongs right now is Taiwan, where tea leaves grow slowly on remote high mountaintops for concentrated sweetness and a flavor reminiscent of the very misty air that cloaks the tea bushes. Styles range from the perfumed, aromatic Pouchong to refined and airy High Mountain oolong from Lishan, Shan Lin Xi, and Alishan. The island's famous high mountain oolongs are some of the most prized teas in the country.

Medium Roast or Oxidation Oolong

Flavor profile: Sweet and warm.
Oxidation level: Moderate.
Roasting: Medium.

Tune up an oolong's oxidation more, or give it a controlled roast, and you lose the super-fresh aromatics of the green styles. These more processed teas develop warm toasty notes and a rich, mellower body. You'll notice accents of honey, toasted nuts, or tropical fruits.

Taiwanese Dongding oolong is a moderately oxidized oolong, full of malty, nutting flavors that can be brought out even more by controlled roasting. There’s also the recently developed Red Oolong with leaves that have been bitten by a tiny, leaf-hopping insect that drives the tea bush to develop extra-fruity and honeyed flavors.  

Heavily Roasted Oolong

Flavor profile: Rich and intense.
Oxidation level: Moderate.
Roasting: Heavy.

The most powerful teas in the oolong kingdom are the heavy roasts. These darker teas can brew up as thick and intense as coffee, and if you're a coffee fan looking to get into tea, they're a great place to start.

The Iron Goddess from the Muzha area of Taiwan and some corners of China's Anxi Province are still making the tea the old fashioned way. A good roasted Iron Goddess makes for a robust, layered brew that adds chocolate, nuts, and charcoal on top of the tea's honeyed sweetness. 


Whether you are new to oolong teas or just looking for something unique and adventurous to satiate your palate, we have a wonderful selection of single origin teas to try. Here are some of our favourites:

Midnight amber
Misty Mountain

Iron Goddess


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