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Tea has been consumed for its taste and perceived nutritional benefits as far back as 2000BC in China, and is believed to be one of the most popular drinks today aside from water.
It comes from the plant camellia sinensis, a type of evergreen shrub. There are four main types of tea: green, white, black, and oolong, each with different flavor profiles and health benefits.
Of course, there are also thousands of others sold and brewed around the world, cultivated from existing flowers and herbs like jasmine and ginger. Depending on the type and quality of tea you're after, there are many places to buy it. Companies such as Hey China are experts in all different kinds, and sell products from across China.
Oolong, or wu-long, tea is probably the least popular of the four tea types mentioned above, but it has some amazing health benefits and is well worth adding to your beverage rotation.
What is oolong tea?
Like black and green tea, although less popular, oolong tea comes from camellia sinensis. The difference in tea comes from how the tea leaves are processed. Green tea leaves are usually steamed or pan-fried to stop oxidation.
Black tea is made from fully oxidized, deep black tea leaves. However, oolong tea is made from partially oxidized tea leaves, which are responsible for the tea's color and unique taste. Oolong tea not only contains caffeine but also theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation.
Does oolong tea have any benefits?
Oolong tea has many health benefits, this is because, like other teas, it's rich with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One serving of oolong will contain fluoride, manganese, potassium, sodium, magnesium, niacin, caffeine, and antioxidant tea polyphenols.
Some of the key health benefits of consuming oolong tea are:
1. Lowers cholesterol
A 2010-11 study conducted by Cambridge Core investigated the relationship between consuming oolong tea and levels of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol in China. As you may know, high cholesterol levels are associated with the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
These researchers discovered those who drank 10 ounces of oolong tea or more each week had a decreased risk of high LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, the people who consumed oolong tea the longest had the lowest LDL cholesterol levels out of all participants.
2. Helps with weight loss
Oolong tea is believed to assist with weight loss, due to its antioxidant contents. These antioxidants-including theaflavins, thearubigins, and EGCG-may boost the body's metabolism, and consequently, help to burn more fat. Many studies have supported this, with results typically indicating an increased consumption of oolong may lead to weight loss without other significant dietary changes.
3. Helps with dental health
Fluoride is a mineral that's naturally found in many things. It's commonly added to a number of products, from drinking water to toothpaste, as a way to prevent cavities. Tea leaves contain fluoride, and due to its fluoride content, oolong tea in particular may therefore help prevent cavities.
Remember, consuming excessive fluoride can be harmful, but keeping your consumption below a litre of oolong tea a day should be safe for most adults.
Other benefits of drinking oolong tea include:
- Improves sleep: GABA combined with L-theanine can cause longer sleep. Both of these compounds can be found in oolong tea.
- Improves gut microbiome: Oolong tea helps provide a balance in healthy bacteria when eating diets that are high in fat.
- Protects the brain: Studies have shown that drinking three cups of tea a day for 10 years greatly reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease up to 28 per cent.
- Improves bone mineral density: Polyphenols in tea are known to help increase both bone mass and strength.
- Increases alertness: Oolong tea has caffeine, but it also contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for a calming effect. This means you get all the energy and no jitters.
- Improves mood and destressing: L-theanine is an amino acid known to improve your mood and can cause a reduction of anxiety and stress
- Helps severe eczema: A study conducted in Japan proved that consuming 10 grams of oolong tea a day had significant results in 63 per cent of patients with eczema, after only 1-2 weeks of treatment
Drinking tea has been part of natural medicine for thousands of years, as the camellia sinensis plant has a lot of vitamins and minerals essential to human health.
Although oolong tea isn't as popular as green or black tea, it has a lot of health benefits. Specifically, it's thought to help prevent heart disease and strokes among many other conditions.
This is sponsored content for Hey China.