A steaming hot cup of oolong tea, also called Wu Long tea, can be a relaxing accompaniment to a fortune cookie or a delicious Chinese meal, but the advantages go far beyond simply being a tasty beverage to pair with your takeout. Falling solidly between black and green teas in terms of strength and caffeine levels, oolong tea delivers a powerful antioxidant punch that can be enjoyed any time of day.
Oolong tea comes from C. sinensis, the same plant that produces black tea and green tea. The difference between the three types of tea is due to the processing method and resulting oxidation level. Oolong tea has a mild taste because it is partially oxidated before being heated and dried. Green teas, which are dried immediately after picking, tend to taste grassier and less complex than oolong tea, while black teas, which undergo heavier oxidation, tend to be more bold and tannic. Their delicate taste makes oolong teas ideal for casual drinking while also making them suitable for drinking with a meal. The caffeine level in oolong tea is similar to the levels found in green tea.
Boost Your Antioxidant Intake
Oolong tea contains an abundance of antioxidants, which can help reduce cell damage and protect the body from cancer and other diseases. Two of the most abundant antioxidant compounds in oolong tea are flavonols and flavanols. According to Drugs.com, 3 to 5 cups of tea a day can also provide 250 milligrams of catechins, a specific type of flavanol.
Prevent Common Diseases
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, oolong tea may protect against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dental caries. While further research is needed, some studies have indicated that oolong tea lowers blood sugar levels, which might help people with diabetes maintain good glucose control. For example, a small 2003 study reported in the journal "Diabetes Care" found that participants with Type 2 diabetes who consumed oolong tea while also taking their diabetes medication as prescribed had better outcomes with regard to blood sugar control than study subjects who used the medication without consuming tea.
If you're looking to lose weight, oolong tea may have fat-reducing benefits that help keep you slim. A study published in the "Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine" in 2009 found that overweight and obese participants who consumed oolong tea for six weeks both lost weight and had decreased waist size by the end of the study. Researchers at the USDA Diet and Human Performance Laboratory found that people who drink tea burn an average of 67 more calories a day than those who drink the same amount of water.