Research about the health benefits of oolong tea is really just beginning, but studies confirm this appealing tea is brimming with many health and wellness benefits.
Although oolong tea has been recognized and valued for centuries in China for its numerous healing properties and satisfying taste, many of us in other parts of the world are still discovering oolong tea and learning about the many ways this tea is good for us.
While minimal research has focused specifically on oolong tea (particularly when compared to research about green tea), current research results are confirming oolong tea health benefits.
Let's take a look at some of the current research targeting oolong tea.
Green tea is well known for its high levels of 'catechins,' which are powerful antioxidants. Oolong and black teas also contain potent antioxidants called 'theaflavins,' which a 2001 study demonstrated to be as effective as green tea's catechins.
Antioxidants are essential for wellness - they disable free radicals, support a healthy immune system, help with weight management, and work to protect our bodies from chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Antioxidants also help reverse the visible signs of aging, such as loss of skin elasticity and wrinkles.
You can read the research abstract for this study about oolong tea and antioxidants here, or, if you would rather read the journal article, click here.
In this 2001 Japanese study, 121 participants with atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema) drank approximately 1 1/2 cups of oolong tea three times per day and, after one month, over 60 percent experienced marked improvement in their skin condition. Oolong tea's polyphenols, which have anti-allergic properties, were attributed for the results.
Interested in reading more about oolong tea eczema-fighting properties? You can find the article here.
This Taiwanese research, conducted in 2002, studied over 1,000 male and female participants over the age of 30, and found that habitual tea drinkers who had consumed oolong, green, and/or black tea at least once per week for six or more years had significantly higher BMD (bone mineral density) in the lower lumbar spine than non-habitual tea drinkers.
And, incrementally higher BMD in the total body, lumbar, and hip regions occurred after ten years habitual tea drinking.
Low BMD is associated with increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.
Research results revealed that the duration of tea consumption was more important than the amount of daily tea consumption. You can read more about this study here.
A study of 14-year-olds in England in 1995 found that tea drinkers had fewer cavities and better dental health in general, as compared to those who typically drank coffee or carbonated drinks - regardless of whether or not sugar was added to the tea! Read more about this study of beverages and dental health here.
'Mutans streptococci' are the bacteria that cause most dental cavities. In 1999, a study at Osaka University in Japan targeted the effectiveness of oolong tea in supporting dental health. The researchers discovered that regular consumption of oolong tea slowed the growth and acid production of harmful mutans streptococci bacteria in the mouth, helping to prevent dental plaque, cavities, and tooth decay. That means fresher breath, as well! You can find the research abstract for this study here.
There's more! You can read about additional studies focusing on oolong tea on our Oolong Tea Research Page 2 page, or visit our Oolong Tea for Weight Loss Research page to learn what scientists have discovered about oolong as a weight-loss tea.
Although research targeting oolong tea is still in early stages, already what has been discovered through oolong tea research about the health benefits of oolong tea is wonderful and very encouraging!
We can expect to hear more about this delicious tea in the future.
Regardless of what research about the health benefits of oolong tea has revealed, before you decide to drink high levels of any tea - including oolong - with a particular purpose in mind (like losing weight), be sure to consult your healthcare provider first, to be sure it's a safe and healthy choice for you. This is especially true if you are taking any prescription medications or if you are expecting or nursing.
Remember, as with all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, oolong tea does contain caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine or have reached your maximum caffeine intake for the day, consider switching from oolong to a beneficial, caffeine-free herbal tisane, instead.
He RR, Chen L, Lin BH, Matsui Y, Yao XS, Kurihara H. Beneficial effects of oolong tea consumption on diet-induced overweight and obese subjects. Chin J Integr Med. 2009 Feb;15(1):34-41.
Hosoda K, Wang MF, Liao ML, Chuang CK, Iha M, Clevidence B, Yamamoto S. Antihyperglycemic Effect of Oolong Tea in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 June;26(6):1714-1718.
Jones C, Woods K, Whittle G, Worthington H, Taylor G. Sugar, drinks, deprivation and dental caries in 14-year-old children in the north west of England in 1995. Community Dent Health. 1999 Jun;16(2):68-71.
Kurihara H, Fukami H, Toyoda Y, Kageyama N, Tsuruoka N, Shibata H, Kiso Y, Tanaka T. Inhibitory effect of oolong tea on the oxidative state of low density lipoprotein (LDL). Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 May;26(5):739-42.
Leung LK, Su Y, Chen R, Zhang Z, Huang Y, Chen ZY. Theaflavins in Black Tea and Catechins in Green Tea Are Equally Effective Antioxidants. J. Nutr. 2001 September 1;131(9):2248-2251.
Matsumoto M, Minami T, Sasaki H, Sobue S, Hamada S, Ooshima T. Inhibitory effects of oolong tea extract on caries-inducing properties of mutans streptococci. Caries Res. 1999 Nov-Dec;33(6):441-5.
Mineharu Y, Koizumi A, Wada Y, Iso H, Watanabe Y, Date C, Yamamoto A, Kikuchi S, Inaba Y, Toyoshima H, Kondo T, Tamakoshi A. Coffee, green tea, black tea and oolong tea consumption and risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese men and women. J Epidemiol Community Health. Pub online 2009 December 8.
Nagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, Meguro S, Hase T, Tanaka Y, Tokimitsu I. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):122-9.
Rumpler W, Seale J, Clevidence B, Judd J, Wiley E, Yamamoto S, Komatsu T, Sawaki T, Ishikura Y, Hosoda K. Oolong Tea Increases Metabolic Rate and Fat Oxidation in Men. J. Nutr. 2001 November 1:131(11):2848-2852.
Uehara M, Sugiura H, Sakurai K. A Trial of Oolong Tea in the Management of Recalcitrant Atopic Dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(1):42-43.
Wu C, Yang Y, Yao W, Lu F, Wu J, Chang C. Epidemiological Evidence of Increased Bone Mineral Density in Habitual Tea Drinkers. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(9):1001-1006.
Yang, YC, Lu FH, Wu JS, Wu CH, Chang CJ. The Protective Effect of Habitual Tea Consumption on Hypertension. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(14):1534-1540.