Some Benefits of Drinking Oolong Tea
What is Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea. It is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed.
All tea leaves contain certain enzymes, which produce a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation is what turns the green tea leaves into a deep black colour.
Green tea is not allowed to oxidize much, but black tea is allowed to oxidize until it turns black. Oolong tea is somewhere in between the two, so it is partially oxidized. This partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea’s colour and characteristic taste. However, the colour of the leaves can vary between different brands, ranging from green to dark brown.
Nutrients in Oolong Tea
Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals and helpful antioxidants. Some of the main antioxidants in oolong tea, known as tea polyphenols, are theaflavins, thearubigins and EGCG. These are responsible for many of its health benefits.
Oolong tea also contains theanine, an amino acid responsible for the tea’s relaxing effect.
1. Oolong Tea Can Improve Heart Health
Regularly consuming tea antioxidants can also improve heart health. Several studies of regular tea drinkers report reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease. In one study, people who drank more than 1.4 litres of tea per day were 51% less likely to have heart disease, compared to non-tea drinkers.
Several studies have also investigated oolong tea specifically. One study of more than 76,000 Japanese adults observed that those who drank 240 cc or more of oolong tea per day had a 61% lower heart disease risk.
A study done in China reports a 39% lower risk of stroke in those drinking 480 cc of oolong or green tea per day.
In addition, regularly consuming 120 cc of green or oolong tea per day may reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 46%. However, not all studies agree.
One thing to remember is that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. That being said, this effect tends to fade with regular caffeine consumption.
Furthermore, since the caffeine content in a 240 cc cup is only about one-fourth of that found in the same amount of coffee, this effect is likely to be small.
In short: Oolong tea can help to decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
2. Oolong Tea Can Help to Prevent Diabetes
The polyphenol antioxidants found in tea are thought to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. They are also thought to increase insulin sensitivity. Accordingly, several studies report links between regular tea consumption, improved blood sugar control and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the specific effects of oolong tea are generally not as well researched as those of green or black tea.
That being said, a recent review observed that those drinking 720 cc of oolong tea per day had a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another study reported that diabetics who consumed 1.5 litres per day had up to 30% lower blood sugar levels at the end of a 30-day study.
Similarly, consuming 1 litre of oolong tea each day for 30 days decreased average blood sugar levels by 3.3%.
Nevertheless, not all studies agree and one even reports an increased risk of developing diabetes for those drinking 480 cc or more per day. Researchers cite pesticide contamination as a likely cause of the negative effects in this study, and do not recommend avoiding oolong tea because of it.
In short: The polyphenol antioxidants can help to maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.
3. Oolong Tea May Help You Lose Weight
Scientists believe that some of the polyphenols in oolong tea may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat absorbed from your diet. These polyphenol antioxidants are also thought to activate enzymes that help you use stored fat for energy. One study found that both full-strength and diluted oolong tea helped participants burn 2.9%-3.4% more total calories per day.
This could be partially due to the caffeine content of tea, but tea polyphenols may also play a role. To test this idea, researchers compared the effects of caffeine alone to a combination of caffeine and tea polyphenols. Both increased the amount of calories burned by about 4.8%, but only the tea polyphenol and caffeine mix increased the participants’ fat burning ability.
This indicates that the fat burning effects of tea are also caused by the plant compounds in tea, not just the caffeine.
That being said, none of the studies clarified whether this increased energy expenditure and fat burning led to any substantial weight loss in humans.
Furthermore, some participants responded better than others, so the effects likely vary from person to person (37Trusted Source).
You can read more in this article about green tea and weight loss. Most of it should apply to oolong tea as well.
The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.
4. Oolong Tea May Improve Brain Function
Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, several components of tea may benefit brain function. For starters, caffeine can increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function.
Further research shows that theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention and relieve anxiety. One recent study reports that tea containing both caffeine and theanine increased alertness and attention within the first 1–2 hours after consumption.
Tea polyphenols are also thought to have a calming effect, especially starting two hours after intake.
Few studies have looked specifically at oolong tea, but one found that regular tea drinkers had up to a 64% lower risk of brain function decline. This effect was particularly strong for regular black and oolong tea drinkers. Another study linked regularly drinking green, black or oolong tea to improved cognition, memory, executive function and information processing speed. Although not all studies observed the same beneficial effects of oolong tea on brain function, none were found that showed negative effects.
In short: The caffeine, antioxidant and theanine content of teas can have beneficial effects on brain function and mood.
5. Oolong Tea May Protect Against Certain Cancers
Scientists believe the antioxidants present in black, green and oolong teas may help prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer in the body. Tea polyphenols might also decrease the rate of cancer cell division.
One review reports that regular tea drinkers may have a 15% lower risk of developing oral cancer. Other reviews report similar protective effects for lung, oesophageal, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers.
However, most research reports that tea has small or non-existent effects on breast, ovarian and bladder cancers. Additionally, most research in this field focused on the effects of green or black teas, with the biggest effects noted for green teas. Since oolong tea falls midway between green and black tea, similar benefits may be expected. However, more research is needed on oolong tea specifically.
In short: Similar to green and black tea, oolong tea may have protective effects against cancer.
6. Oolong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength
The antioxidants found in oolong tea may help keep your teeth and bones strong. One study showed that people who drank black, green or oolong tea daily over a 10-year period had 2% higher overall bone mineral density. A study of 680 postmenopausal Chinese women found that those who drank oolong tea regularly had 4.5–4.9% higher bone densities than non-tea-drinkers.
In addition, several other recent reviews report similar positive effects of tea on bone mineral. A higher bone mineral density could lower the risk of fractures. However, the direct link between oolong tea and fractures has not been investigated yet.
Finally, research links tea consumption to reduced dental plaque. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel.
In short: Oolong tea may help increase bone mineral density. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the formation of dental plaque.
7. Oolong Tea May Help Relieve Eczema
The polyphenols in tea may also help relieve eczema. One study asked 118 patients with severe cases of eczema to drink 1 litre of oolong tea per day, in addition to maintaining their normal treatment. Eczema symptoms improved as early as 1–2 weeks into the study. After 1 month of the combined treatment, 63% of patients showed improvement. Moreover, the improvement persisted. They were still observed in 54% of the patients 5 months later.
In short: The polyphenol antioxidants in oolong tea may help relieve symptoms of eczema, and the improvements may last for a long time.
8. Oolong Tea Aids Digestion
Oolong can help aid digestion for those not sensitive to caffeine. The tea alkalizes the digestive tract, reducing inflammation in those with acid reflux and ulcer problems. Because it is mildly antiseptic, oolong tea can clear bad bacteria from your belly. Its calm, smooth flavour can soothe the stomach when consumed hot.
9. Oolong Tea Promotes Healthy Hair
Due to its high level of antioxidants, oolong tea can prevent hair loss if you make a tea rinse out of the leaves. Not only that, but your hair will be thicker and shinier. Oolong softens and adds lustre to your hair.
10. Oolong Tea Improves Your Skin Condition
Eczema often occurs in conjunction with allergies or sensitivities. Oolong tea is able to suppress those allergic reactions because it combats free radicals, which is a healing property of an antioxidant. Also, the antioxidants found in oolong are essential for vibrant, youthful skin. Drinking oolong can greatly slow down the aging process, so it is a great anti-aging tool.
11. Oolong Tea Strengthens the Immune System
Known for its anti-cancer properties, oolong tea assists in maintaining a healthy immune system. The antioxidant flavonoids found in the tea prevent cellular damage. The production of anti-bacterial proteins is much higher in those who drink oolong tea, indicating a strong immune response when fighting infection.