Green tea has been celebrated as a super-slimming sip for years, with studies showing it can rev metabolism and turn off fat storage. However, it’s not the only tea on the market that has enormous benefits in the world of weight loss. Oolong tea, a traditional Chinese tea, is the perfect beverage to add to a diet for fat loss because of its ability to boost metabolism and reduce belly bloat.
What is oolong tea?
Oolong tea is made from the Camilla sinensis plant, which is the same plant used to make black and green tea. It is classified as an entirely different tea because of the way it is processed. Black tea is created from fully-crushed, completely-oxidized Camilla sinensis leaves. Green tea is made from fresh leaves. Oolong tea is made from wilted leaves that have partially oxidized.
Since partial oxidation can vary from brand to brand, oolong teas have a variety of different flavors. Some are lighter than others (and have a sunnier flavor than green tea), but all help reduce belly bloat and aid in weight loss.
How Oolong Tea Helps With Weight Loss
Wanting to gain a deeper understanding of green tea’s effects, geneticist Sharon Moalem, PhD, author of The DNA Restart (Buy from Amazon, $18.96), 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 said. While that tea has great effects in lab trials, he found that the amount needed to deliver the benefits often causes digestive distress. So, what were the 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. Oolong tea’s unique blend of polyphenols prods cells to burn calories more efficiently, asserts 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.
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 Moalem. “Instead, the fats pass through you, undigested. As you absorb less dietary fat, the body burns its supply of stored fat for energy.” Indeed, researchers found that drinking eight ounces of oolong with a meal cut 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 Moalem. Studies show that oolong dials down hunger by 36 percent for up to 24 hours. It also lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol by 29 percent.
In addition, catechins unique to oolong feed beneficial gut bacteria, improving digestion and curbing blue moods by 20 percent. In fact, First for Women spoke to numerous readers who report that sipping oolong increased their energy, eased aches, and curbed belly bloat.
How much should you drink?
To get the benefits of oolong tea, Moalem 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 six ounces of boiling water over each tea bag (or 3/4 teaspoon of loose tea), then allowed to steep for a full two 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 brand we like is Buddha Teas Organic Oolong (Buy from Amazon, $9.99), which comes loosely packed and has a pleasant floral flavor.
Tip: Though oolong can be pricier than black or green varieties, the leaves can be re-brewed up to five times — just add 10 seconds onto the steeping time for each additional cycle.
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 Moalem. But be sure to enjoy the complex flavor of oolong without milk, because Moalem says that proteins in dairy bind to the unique polyphenols in oolong and reduce their effectiveness.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.