You may not be too familiar with oolong tea benefits for weight loss. That's because for years, green tea has been celebrated as a super-slimming sip, with studies showing it can rev metabolism and turn off fat storage. When you think of tea for weight loss, green tea comes to mind first, right?
Wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the green tea’s effects, geneticist Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D., author of The DNA Restart, traveled to Japan to meet with the world’s leading tea researchers. What he found shocked him: “None of them were drinking green tea.” He learned that while the tea has great effects in lab trials, the amount needed to deliver the benefits often causes digestive distress. So what were scientists drinking? “Oolong tea,” says Dr. Moalem. “When I asked them why, they said it’s easier on the stomach and richer in polyphenols.”
Research shows that oolong tea can speed slimming as effectively or better than green tea. The tea’s unique blend of polyphenols prods cells to burn calories more efficiently, asserts Dr. Moalem. In fact, Japanese researchers found that just one cup of oolong boosts metabolism by 20 percent for two hours — nearly twice as much as three strong cups of green tea. Even better: Oolong promotes the burning of belly fat. In one study, oolong sippers lost two times more midsection fat than those who skipped the brew.
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Oolong tea doesn’t just melt fat fast — it helps keep it off for life. “Oolong blocks the release of the enzymes that break down fats so they can be stored,” says Dr. Moalem. “Instead, the fats pass through you, undigested. As you absorb less dietary fat, the body burns its supply of stored fat for energy.” Researchers found that drinking 8 oz. of oolong with a meal cuts fat absorption by 50 percent.
Oolong tea benefits for weight loss are just the beginning. “Once you start drinking oolong, you’ll feel the difference instantly,” promises Dr. Moalem. Studies show that oolong dials down hunger by
36 percent for up to 24 hours, plus lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol by 29 percent. Catechins unique to oolong have also been shown to feed beneficial gut bugs, improving digestion and curbing blue moods by 20 percent. Indeed, women FIRST spoke to report that sipping oolong increased their energy, eased aches and curbed belly bloat.
To get the benefits of oolong tea, Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D., recommends sipping two to four mugs daily. He notes that the tea delivers the most potent dose of slimming polyphenols when it is prepared by pouring 6 oz. of boiling water over each tea bag (or 3⁄4 tsp. of loose tea), then allowed to steep for a full 2 minutes. This process allows the tightly balled tea leaves to uncurl and release their antioxidants. “The best oolong tea bags will look almost empty before they’re wet. If they’re packed too tightly, the leaves can’t expand,” Dr. Moalem notes. One we like: Buddha Teas Organic Oolong ($10 for 18 tea bags, Amazon.com), which comes loosely packed and has a pleasant floral flavor. Hint: Though oolong can be pricier than black or green varieties, the leaves can be re-brewed up to 5 times — just add 10 seconds onto the steeping time for each additional cycle.
Also smart: Because oolong works, in part, by preventing fat from being absorbed, sipping the tea along with a high-fat meal will help speed results. “In Asian countries, they brew up a strong pot with a fatty meal,” says Dr. Moalem. But be sure to enjoy the complex flavor of oolong without milk as Dr. Moalem says that proteins in dairy bind to the unique polyphenols in oolong and reduce their effectiveness.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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