Originating in Southern China's Fujian province, oolong is a traditional Chinese tea whose oxidation level lies somewhere between green and black tea. When processed, these teas are either rolled into long, curly leaves or pressed into a ball-like form. Its oxidation process increases the levels of certain health-promoting compounds, which have unique anti-allergy, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Oolong tea also contains other components including catechins, flavonoids, and polyphenols that act as antioxidants in the body and contribute to the many health benefits of Fujian oolong tea.
The polyphenols present in Fujian oolong tea may help increase metabolism and prevent obesity. These polyphenol compounds activate the specific enzyme that is responsible for dissolving triglycerides in the body. Caffeinated tea will increase metabolic rate, because caffeine is a stimulant. However, studies have demonstrated that caffeine and EGCG, a powerful catechin present in Fujian oolong tea, may work synergistically to further increase fat oxidation.
Combats Hay Fever and Allergy Symptoms
Specific compounds in Fujian oolong tea can help prevent hay fever and allergy symptoms, according to a 1999 issue of "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." Two catechin compounds, C-1 and C-2, have been isolated from Fujian oolong tea and have potent anti-allergy properties. These catechins inhibit the enzyme histidine, which blocks the body's production of histamine and adds to the benefits of oolong tea. Increased levels of histamine in sensitive individuals cause symptoms of sneezing, itchy and watery eyes as well as allergic rhinitis. The January 2001 issue of the "Archives of Dermatology" reports that oolong tea also treats allergic atopic dermatitis.
Promotes Dental Health
Oolong tea has antibacterial properties and may help prevent tooth decay. According to a 2013 study published in "BioMed Central Research Notes," oolong tea can inhibit the enzymatic activities of streptococci bacteria and prevent it from attaching to enamel and gums. Streptococci bacteria cause plaque formation on the teeth. Experts from the Department of Dentistry at Osaka University also claim that this tea can help strengthen tooth enamel. Oolong tea is also a natural source of fluoride, with 0.1 to 0.2 milligrams of the mineral in an 8-ounce cup of tea, reports the Linus Pauling Institute.
Fights Free Radical Damage
The major benefits of oolong tea come from its antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals, which are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules, can originate from stress, ultraviolet radiation, and chemical additives in food. Once formed, they can start a chain reaction in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive and can cause serious damage when they react with cell membranes or DNA.
The amount of free radicals in the body increases as we get older and can contribute to the development of cancers, inflammatory diseases, and serious damage to hair and skin. According to a study in a 2003 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," antioxidants present in Fujian oolong tea terminate the chain reaction of free radicals, which otherwise leads to the cellular damage that can otherwise lead to inflammation, cancers, and signs of aging.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Modulation of Obesity by a Green Tea Catechin
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Novel Antiallergic Catechin Derivatives Isolated from Oolong Tea
- BioMed Central Research Notes: Inhibition of Attachment of Oral Bacteria to Immortalized Human Gingival Fibroblasts (HGF-1) By Tea Extracts and Tea Components
- Archives of Dermatology:
- Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry: Antioxidative Activities of Volatile Extracts from Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea
- Linus Pauling Institute: Tea