Like any other tea, the full flavor of oolong tea can be enjoyed when it is brewed right. It is important to start with good quality tea to get the best final results. Since there are various varieties of oolong teas available today, the brewing method will vary. Generally, darker oolong tea will require boiling water and will have to be steeped longer compared to lighter oolong teas.
Clay teapots work the best. A clean, good quality clay teapots has properties which allow it to absorb the flavors of the tea. These flavors are then released into the tea when used next. Using clean, fresh water is also important. Bottled or filtered water works the best since it has a very clean, fresh flavor.
Brewing the tea
Oolong tea is coarse and thick and therefore needs boiling hot water for the leaves to open and the flavor to emerge. Once the water boils, allow it to cool for a few seconds and then pour it over the leaves. As the tea brews, the leaves will expand. The pot must be large enough to allow the leaves to expand.
First and second brew
Not many people know that brewing oolong tea requires two brewing steps. For the first brew, pour very little water over the leaves and then throw the brew out since it will be too bitter. Once the leaves have opened up, the second brewing step can be performed. Based on personal taste, the tea can be infused from a minute up to three minutes. Experiment with temperature and time till you find a brewing time and temperature that fits your taste perfectly.
Most teas can handle multiple infusions, however, oolong tea can maintain its full flavor well up to the third infusion. This will provide you another opportunity to try different brewing methods. Experiment with multiple infusions, steeping times and water temperatures to create a brew that works best for you.
If you select an oolong tea that is very high quality, you will be able to enjoy an exceptional cup of tea even if the brewing process and technique is not perfect. Good quality oolong tea is reliable and quite forgiving of lack of brewing skill. With some practice and experimentation, you will find that oolong tea is actually a very refreshing and enjoyable beverage that can be enjoyed every day.