Black Tea vs. Oolong Tea: The Key Differences

Since oolong tea is often dark in color, it is common for beginners to get these two types of teas confused.

Although both of these types of teas are made from the same tea plant, the processing techniques used in their production are quite different.

Keep reading to learn the key differences between these two types of tea.

Black Tea

Black tea is probably the most common type of tea in Western regions of the world, such as the United Kingdoms and the United States of America. Although black tea originated in China, it is also produced at scale in other regions of the world, such as India.

Famous black teas include Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, Jin Jun Mei, and Darjeeling.

Black tea is typically fully oxidized, which results in a dark malty flavor.

Many people drink black tea as an alternative to coffee due to it’s distinct similarities.

Wang Yanxin Zhu Rong Black Tea

Oolong Tea

Oolong teas are primarily grown and processed in China, but are produced in some surrounding areas as well, such as Taiwan. Some famous tea-growing locations would include the Wuyi Mountains and Anxi County.

Quite commonly, unique cultivars of the tea plant are used to produce oolong tea. These strains are typically known for their strong aromatics, although many of them have unique stories behind them as well, such as the legend of Tie Guan Yin oolong tea.

Some famous oolong teas include Da Hong Pao, Tie Guan Yin, and Mi Lan Xiang.

In contrast to black tea, which is fully oxidized, oolong teas are only partially oxidized, ranging anywhere from 8 to 80%. Teas on the lower end of this scale will be much greener in color, as well as have more floral notes in regard to taste and fragrance. Teas on the higher end of this scale will be much darker in color, and although the flavor can vary drastically depending the origin and processing techniques, the higher the oxidation rate, the more similar to black tea it becomes. These teas can be dark, robust, fruity, floral, or even have unique mineral notes, such as is often the case with oolong teas from the Wuyi Mountains region of China.

Oolong teas are also known to be rolled or twisted in unique ways, creating a certain aesthetic which is not often found in other types of tea.

oolong tea
Travis Joynson

Travis Joynson

Travis Joynson is the founder and chief editor of the Professional Tea Taster.

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