What Does Oolong Tea Taste Like?

Oolong tea is an exciting category of tea that can vary greatly in style and flavour. To try help you better understand what oolong tea tastes like, we've answered some of your most popular questions on oolong here...

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis. It comes between green tea and black tea.

It is uniquely crafted to bring out the complex flavours in the tea leaf. Oolong tea is richer than green tea, but less astringent than black tea. Our loose leaf oolong teas have been crafted by masters to reveal extraordinary flavours to flood your life with pleasure.

What are the tasting notes of oolong tea?

Much like wine, individual oolong teas have unique tasting notes. They cannot be categorised into one simple flavour profile. The joy of oolongs is that you have a cornucopia of flavours to explore.

We have curated a list of loose leaf oolong teas from around the world to encompass the best array of flavours we can find. Please read the tasting notes and explore our oolong tea collection to find the flavours that excite you most.

Chinese Iron Goddess Oolong has a succulent sweetness with later infusions leading to floral notes.

Rare Pipachá Oolong tastes of dried fruits and honey with an elegant port wine nose and finish.

Da Hong Pao Oolong is dark amber in colour with a deep flavours of of nutty chocolate.

What factors influence the flavour of oolong tea?

Oolong tea is partially oxidised - and the level of oxidation helps define the flavour. Low oxidation oolong teas are also known as yellow or golden oolongs. These teas are greener and sweeter in flavour - like our Chinese Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong and Golden Lily Milk Oolong. If you are looking for something richer try our Sunset Oolong from Taiwan and our New Zealand oolong from Waikato which are oxidised further to reveal deeper, tropical fruit notes. Da Hong Pao is the most oxidised and has the deepest flavour profile. Dark amber in colour with notes of nutty chocolate, and a rounded, biscuity aroma like a vintage champagne.

The terroir - the exact place in the world, with all the environmental factors that come to play - also influences flavour. The pH of the soil; the elevation of the garden; the gradient of the terraces; how much rainfall the fields receive each year, and when in the growing cycle; how the sun falls over the gardens at different points in the year - all these factors will affect the flavour of the tea. Then there is the harvesting and crafting. Each place and tea master will bring something unique to their oolong tea.

Is oolong tea flavoured?

The unique flavours of oolong tea come from the leaf itself and its expert crafting. The best loose leaf oolong tea needs no artificial or natural flavourings added to it. Just as a great wine doesn't need to be flavoured, we believe great tea needs nothing added to it.

You may find milk oolongs that have been flavoured with milk powder. But you won't find them at Rare Tea. Our Golden Lily Milk Oolong has wonderful aromas of warm milk, but this comes naturally from the tea varietal and the incredible skill in its crafting.

How to brew the best tasting cup of oolong?

We have created a short video to help you infuse the perfect cup of loose leaf oolong tea in a traditional chinese gaiwan. You can watch it here.

You can also infuse oolong tea in much the same way as any loose leaf tea using a teapot. Find a few tips for infusing the perfect cup of tea in a teapot here.

Is oolong tea bitter?

We are often asked if oolong tea is bitter. This really depends on how you infuse it, and how you personally like your tea. If you are looking for a softer, sweeter cup with almost no bitterness, use a quick infusion time. But if you want to bring out more bitter notes, leave the leaf in water for longer. The bitterness of this wonderfully complex tea, is really down to you.

Oolong tea will never have enough tannins to marry with milk. If you like a strong tea with milk you would always be better off with a black tea.

How does the taste of oolong tea compare to other teas?

When comparing green tea vs oolong tea, you will find most oolongs are richer and more complex in flavour. Compared to a black tea they are usually less astringent.

Where can I buy oolong tea?

We have a lovely array of oolong teas here at Rare Tea, directly sourced form some wonderful farmers across the world. We ship across the globe and can deliver them direct to your doorstep.

All the best,

Image Henrietta Lovell
Rare Tea Lady
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Since 2000 Henrietta has been travelling the world, working directly with independent tea gardens, from the Shire Highlands of Malawi to the foothills of the Himalayas. Lovell is at the forefront of the tea revolution. She founded Rare Tea Company in 2004 to champion responsible and ethical relationships direct with farmers. In 2016 she founded Rare Charity pledging a direct percentage of Rare Tea revenue to their partner farms, supporting tertiary education scholarships. In 2019 Faber & Faber published her first book – "Infused - Adventures in Tea", named the New York Times book of the year and was awarded the prestigious Fortnum & Mason award. She is currently working on a documentary series.