Let me just say it outright: oolong tea is not green tea. They might come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), but oolong tea is manufactured and produced differently, and also has a very different taste. Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world—if not the most popular—so it is understandable that you want to get your hands on oolong tea.
Now, before we review the benefits of oolong tea, let me clarify what makes green tea, black tea, and oolong tea different. The main difference is in the processing. Green tea is unfermented, while black tea and oolong tea are fermented. But oolong tea is just partially fermented, while black tea is fully fermented.
Now, I must note that green tea has more health benefits as compared to oolong tea. However, for those of you who cannot stand the bitter taste of green tea, oolong tea is the perfect alternative.
That being said, let’s take a look at oolong tea’s benefits, along with some of its uses and side effects.
1. Weight Loss
One of the main reasons why people consume green tea is weight loss. The same can apply to oolong tea, as it has an abundance of polyphenols (compounds that control your metabolism and fat). Without going deep into biology, polyphenols activate enzymes that enhance the function of fat cells in your body. It has become a widely accepted fact that regular consumption of oolong tea helps fight obesity.
More studies need to be done on humans, but animal research is providing some promising results. And while many think that caffeine is the reason oolong tea, as well as green and black tea, help with weight loss, it actually comes down to the abundance of polyphenols.
2. Fight Off Free Radicals
Polyphenols help with so many things, not just weight loss. Since they are actually antioxidants, polyphenols help our body fight off free radicals. Getting rid of the harmful free radicals is the first step towards clear and perfect skin, as well as slowing down the aging process. And that is just a small portion of the health benefits that antioxidants provide. Free radicals can increase the risk of cancer, arthritis, stroke, atherosclerosis, diabetes and other very dangerous medical conditions. Antioxidants help us fight off the potential risk.
3. Lower Cholesterol
I mentioned how oolong tea benefits our weight management, but there is more to it than that. The tea activates lipase, an enzyme whose primary function is to dissolve body fat. It comes down to polyphenols again, and you can understand why we need oolong tea on a daily basis. Lowering cholesterol is key to reducing heart and cardiovascular diseases, as well as obesity and managing our weight.
4. Skin Benefits
I mentioned that oolong tea can help you achieve healthy and clear skin, acne free. But it goes deeper than that. Consuming oolong tea on a regular basis also helps with eczema, a dreadful skin condition. Now, I must say, drinking oolong tea won’t help you completely get rid of eczema—unfortunately, there is no such thing. But it can significantly reduce the symptoms and stress. Consume three cups of tea throughout the day, and the results will come in less than two weeks. There hasn’t been a study yet that shows exactly how oolong tea helps with eczema, but many believe it is because of the richness of polyphenols that have anti-allergic compounds. In a way, polyphenols soothe the skin and relieve irritation.
5. Fight Off Diabetes
Diabetes is one of those diseases for which there is no cure. The only thing you can do is reduce the symptoms, or prevent it before it happens. Oolong tea helps with both. Consuming the tea on a regular basis will reduce your insulin level as well as your blood sugar levels. And even better, your insulin sensitivity will be reduced.
And while it is true that the overall oolong tea benefits for diabetes have not been researched as much as those of green tea and black tea, it still is a viable option.
Some studies show that patients with diabetes reduced their blood sugar levels by 30% by the end of the first month by consuming one litre of tea per day.
6. Improve Heart Health
When you combine the two benefits, i.e., lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, the result is one healthy heart. This is why doctors recommend oolong tea for improving your heart health. Tea drinkers have twice the decreased risk of heart disease than non-tea drinkers.
The risk of stroke also goes down with tea consumption. Now, you must remember that caffeine from oolong tea might raise your blood pressure, so if you have high blood pressure, oolong tea is not a smart choice. However, if you have normal blood pressure, oolong tea helps prevent heart disease in the long run.
7. Improve Digestion
Oolong tea works as an alkaline food. It helps you alkalize the digestive tract, essentially reducing inflammation in the tract. People with ulcer problems will benefit greatly from consuming oolong tea. Additionally, oolong tea works as an antiseptic, helping you eliminate bad bacteria in the stomach.
8. Healthy Hair
As noted at the beginning of this article, antioxidants help with healthy skin. But an underrated benefit of consuming oolong tea on a regular basis is the benefit for your hair: you can consume oolong tea and improve your hair health in the long run. And you can also make a tea rinse with oolong tea leaves and soften your hair, giving it volume and shine.
9. Tooth Decay
Oolong tea protects your teeth from bacteria. As a result, you prevent tooth decay as well as the build-up of plaque in your mouth. Oolong tea inhibits the production of acid and bacterial growth, helping improve your oral health.
10. Prevents Osteoporosis
We all want strong bones, but in time, we lose our bone mineral density. Oolong tea helps by allowing our body to retain minerals from healthy foods. No matter how well you eat, sometimes the minerals are just flushed away. Oolong tea helps you maintain those minerals, like calcium and magnesium, in your body.
11. Manage Stress
Managing stress is probably the most important reason why you should consume oolong tea on a regular basis. Stress has become the No.1 enemy of our health nowadays. The dynamic society we live in is just ruthless; we have no time to relax and enjoy. Stress builds up, and, as a result, we suffer from a number of anti-immune diseases. Oolong tea contains a large number of polyphenols, which help to reduce stress. Additionally, acids in the tea block glutamate receptors in the brain.
Side Effects and Precautions
Look, don’t get me wrong, oolong tea is completely safe and great beverage. However, there are times and situations in which you should avoid oolong tea. But those situations apply for all beverages that contain caffeine, including green tea and coffee. Let’s just revisit some of them:
- Pregnancy: during pregnancy caffeine is not recommended, so no oolong tea.
- Anxiety disorders: caffeine is known to worsen anxiety disorders, so if you are suffering from one, avoid oolong tea.
- Bleeding disorders: caffeine is not recommended during bleeding disorders because it might slow down blood clotting.
- Diarrhoea: coffee, or caffeine in general, can act as a diuretic and can worsen diarrhoea.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, can also be worsened by the consumption of caffeine-based beverages.
Too much of anything can be harmful. The same applies to oolong tea. As I mentioned at the beginning, the difference between oolong, green and black tea is in the processing. As a result, all three types of tea contain different amounts of caffeine. Oolong tea contains something in between green and black tea, or 50mg per cup. Green tea contains less, while black tea contains more caffeine. As a general rule of thumb, nutritionists and health experts recommend around 200mg of caffeine per day, which would translate to 4 cups of oolong tea per day. However, I would recommend staying at three, since you consume caffeine from other food sources as well (cocoa, for example).
Oolong tea might take up only 2% of the world’s tea, but I am sure we can increase that number. Consuming this traditional Chinese tea is a habit worth exploring. And as mentioned several times throughout the article, oolong tea combines the benefits of both black and green tea, but without their bitter taste.
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