Oolong tea and black tea are both made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. However, because of different production methods, these are two different types of tea, so they have differences in aroma, taste, and liquor.

This article will provide criteria to help readers easily realize differences between oolong tea and black tea. Moreover, it also gives suggestions on what kind of tea is suitable for whom and when.

1. The difference in the production of oolong and black tea

Oolong tea and black tea are different in raw materials and production methods. For Oolong tea, the tea leaves are curled into a round shape, dark yellow in appearance. It is the first truly oxidized tea, which results in a deeper flavor and darker color when enzymes are exposed to oxygen. Oolong teas can be oxidized anywhere from 8% to 80%, depending on the tea master. Teas that have been lightly oxidized have floral and delicate flavors with a hint of sweetness, while teas that have been substantially oxidized have darker flavors.

On the other hand, black tea undergoes a complete oxidation process using traditional methods. Black teas have an earthy and deep sweet aftertaste and reddish-brown liquor. Because of its strong flavor, it can be used as a substitute for coffee. The oxidation process gives black tea leaves a dark color in appearance, and its size is a little bit bigger.

The beautiful oolong tea hill in Sapa
The beautiful oolong tea hill in Sapa, Lao Cai province

Related products:

2. Distinguish dried tea leaves of oolong tea vs. black tea

Due to the different processing methods, the two tea types have different shapes of dried tea leaves. The easiest way to distinguish oolong tea and black tea is on the shape and color of the dried tea leaves. While oolong tea leaves are curled into a characteristic round shape, light green color appearance, black tea is made to strip long or medium leaves and have a dark color appearance.

The appearance of dried oolong tea leaves
The appearance of dried oolong tea leaves
The appearance of dried black tea orthodox leaves
The appearance of dried black tea orthodox leaves

3. Recognize oolong tea and black tea through each tea brewed tea color

Oolong tea makers are considered to be true masters of tea processing. Tea leaves will be fermented from 8 to 85% so the appearance and taste of Oolong teas are various. Oolong tea is more special than any other tea type as it is partially fermented after harvest.

Taiwanese Oolong tea style usually oxidizes from 10 to 40%, and it tends to be greener in color and has a milder flavor. The greenest liquor of Oolong teas is oxidized to about 5-10%. The more oxidized, the liquor of the tea will be redder. If oolong tea is oxidized to about 80-90%, its liquor color will be similar to black tea.

Black tea, on the other hand, is oxidized fully. Therefore black tea liquor will be a deep red color than common Oolong tea. Some Oolong teas may be almost fully oxidized, making them quite close to black tea.

Brewed tea color of Oolong tea and Black tea
Brewed tea color of Oolong tea and Black tea

4. Compare the taste of oolong tea with black tea

Does oolong tea taste like black tea is the question that most of the beginners care about. The oxidation process gives oolong tea and black tea the different taste. The table below will help you identify the unique flavor of each tea.

Oolong tea vs. Black tea taste

Black tea Oolong tea
Its flavor is like a rich rose and ripe apple fragrance. The flavor of Oolong tea varies widely depending on the kind. It might be fruity and heavy with roasted scents, green and fresh with floral notes, or sweet with fruit flavors and honey aromas.

Note: With the heavily oxidized Oolong teas, the taste will be similar to black tea.

Oolong tea oxidized about 80% vs Oolong tea oxidized about 20%
Oolong tea oxidized about 80% vs Oolong tea oxidized about 20%

Related post: Vietnamese imperial oolong tea: Characteristics and advantages

5. Oolong tea vs. black tea benefits for health

Both oolong tea and black tea are from the Camellia sinensis leaves, so they have many benefits in common such as being rich in antioxidants, good for hair and skin, and improving heart health. However, the processing and oxidation will make the two teas differ in caffeine and nutritional content.

caffeine content in different types of tea
The caffeine content in Oolong tea and Black tea is different because of the making process

Instead of choosing which tea is better based on scientific studies though you dislike the flavor of that tea, you should drink the tea based on their personal preferences and needs. Here are some recommendations for your interest:

  • For those who want to take more energy for the body, they should drink black tea.
  • For those who want to lose weight, they should drink Oolong tea. However, remember, you shouldn’t drink Oolong tea on an empty stomach or right after your meal.

To help readers easily understand and remember,  below is the summary table of comparison between Oolong tea vs. black tea:

Criteria Oolong tea Black tea
Tea leaves Large in size Bud and small leaves
Oxidation Partly oxidized from  8% – 80% Totally oxidized
Fresh ingredient 100% fresh tea leaves 100% fresh tea leaves
Taste Low oxidation oolong produces a line of oolong with the natural scent of natural flowers, gentle.

The taste of pure oolong will be more mature with a smell mixed with a light wood smell.

The tea has a mild sour taste and has a strong aroma of rose and ripe apples.
Dried tea leaves Curled shape Long or medium strip leaves
Tea color Green Black

Some similarities of oolong tea and black tea are from the same source of the tea plant, undergo oxidation, and the caffeine content is less than green tea. 80% oxidized oolong tea is very similar to black tea.

If you have any questions regarding the differences between oolong tea and black tea, feel free to contact me at huongmaifgc@vietnam-tea.com to have a deep understanding of these teas.

Share:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •