Black tea, white tea or green tea?

Let's talk on the same terms: green tea, white tea or Oolong tea

Teas are categorised into 6 classes according to the degree of fermentation/oxidisation during their processing: green teas are un-fermented; white teas are lightly fermented by almost unprocessed (rubbed, rolled or baked); yellow teas are partially fermented, but being put through a unique process called ‘Men Huang’ to produce the unique yellow appearance and yellow tea taste; Oolong teas are semi-fermented and black teas are fully fermented. There is also a sixth category called compressed tea (Pu-erh tea) that the teas continue to ferment after being produced. The confusion starts when a tea brew without milk added is called black by the western cultures.  With the increasing popularity of green tea in recent years largely due to their numerous health benefits, it adds another dimension to the confusion – many call any leaf tea green including herbal teas (teas made of all other plants and parts apart from Camellia sinensis leaves). The classification becomes more intangible when white tea is mentioned: it is a black tea with added milk by western culture and the white tea in Chinese is a unique class of teas that are lightly fermented by least processed, nothing to do with if milk is added or not. The discussions about teas, especially their health benefits are intense these days. Let’s start from getting the terms right so that at least we know we are talking about the same products.

Other resources: 



Oolong, Wulong and Wu Long, what are the differences?

Oolong tea is a class of Chinese teas that are semi-fermented. Oolongl, Wulong and Wulong are translations of different Fu Jian dialects referring to 'dark red dragon' in Chinese.

I have come crossed some questions recently on Linked in which I believed are for many:

  • Hello XXX, do please throw some light which is the best area which produces the best Oolong tea. I thought Taiwan was superior. Anything better still? XXX
  • Taiwan does have outstanding oolongs, and many people consider them to be some of the best -- especially their high mountain oolongs. Personally we buy most of our oolongs from Taiwan, but favour China for many of our top quality green tea and white tea.
  • I would like to add a comment to XXX's question - In my mind, Oolong is not the same as Wulong. Oolong tea is a short fermented (less oxidized) tea with less color and closer to a green tea and Wulong which is also called Wu Yi Oolong is a more fermented (more oxidized) tea with more color, closer to a black tea. Some of the less oxidized high elevation Oolongs come from Taiwan, but China is gaining ground in this sector also. Wu Yi Oolong on the other hand comes only from China. I am open to correction.

My response to this: Hi every one, I am from Fu Jian province - the birth place of Oolong teas. Here is some info on our site regarding Oolong, Wulong and Wu Long: Teas are categorised by degree of fermentation: green teas are unfermented, black teas are fully fermented and Oolong teas are semi-fermented. It is a class of teas including Taiwan Oolong and Wu Yi rock teas. Wulong is just a different version of English translation from a different Fu Jian dialect. The Fu Jian province is the birth place of Oolong teas. One of the most popular one is called Tie Guan Yin and some early migrants took it to Taiwan, modified it over the years to become Tiawan Oolong. Tiawan Oolong is produced by slightly different method and more fermented than Fu Jian Tie Guan Yin. Taste wise, it has a stronger after taste, but less up front floral aroma. Wu Yi rock tea is a sub-class of Oolong tea, produced in Wu Yi mountain area of the Fu Jian province. Because the bushes are grown of rocky mountains and they have their own unique making method, people tend to call them Wu Yi rock tea as a sub-category. Hope this is of some help.


Subscribe to this RSS feed


fb iconFacebook Login