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Oolong Tea for Weight Loss

Oolong Tea for Weight Loss

Everybody had been gaga over green tea for weight loss since past few years. And now, here’s a new tea called Oolong tea for weight loss! Well, it is not a new tea or something invented overnight. In fact, Oolong tea had been a popular health drink in China where it was used since ages, mainly to control weight. So, it happens that what Chinese knew centuries ago, modern world has come to know only few years ago, thanks to all the research and studies conducted to know the connection between Oolong tea and weight loss.

What’s the Weight Loss Connection of Oolong Tea?

Here we again go back to the Chinese as they were the ones who conducted a research in 1998 and established their traditional belief that Oolong tea reduces weight over regular consumption. They made this conclusion after making 102 women drink Oolong tea over a period of six weeks. They all lost weight considerably.

How does Oolong Tea work for Weight Loss?

The previous study that we talked about just established that Oolong tea is beneficial in weight loss but how does it work was not studied.

The research conclusion of the earlier mentioned Chinese study was further proved by the  US Agriculture Research Services’ Diet and Human Laboratory. They conducted a research in 2001 to study how Oolong tea influences energy expenditure (EE). Why did they try to know about EE? Because there are only 2 ways in which a food (or drink) can help in reducing weight. First, it can increase energy expenditure (EE) which means increased metabolism and that’s what helps in losing weight. The second way in which foods can reduce weight is by inhibiting the absorption of nutrients, including fat and carbohydrates. (fats and carbohydrates are the ones that make you gain weight!)

So, this research tried to find out whether Oolong tea increases energy expenditure (EE) or not and if yes, then Oolong tea was the answer to many weight loss worries.

These researchers made 12 men drink four beverages over three days. These 4 beverages were, full strength oolong tea; caffeinated water equal to full strength oolong tea; half strength oolong tea; and non caffeinated water.

These men burned more calories per day when they had the full strength oolong tea. Not only this, the fat burning capacity of their body increased by 12 percent after having full strength Oolong tea. While caffeine is also believed to help lose weight and Oolong tea also has caffeine, there was plain caffeinated water to study the impact of caffeine on weight loss too. But the fat burning capacity was highest when they consumed full strength Oolong tea. It was concluded that the weight loss connection of Oolong tea is not only due to caffeine. There was something else in the Oolong tea that made it a perfect drink for weight loss.

Polyphenols make Oolong Tea an Amazing Weight Loss Tool?

There is something called polymerized polyphenols which is present in highest amount in Oolong tea when compared to other teas. These polymerized polyphenols are what make Oolong tea so effective for weight loss.

A study report was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006. This study was done to assess the effectiveness of polyphenol in oolong tea in reducing dietary lipid absorption in humans. Lipid refers to fatty acids or their derivatives, believed to make a person obese.

In this study, three male and nine female participants were divided into two groups. During the study period all the subjects were given potato chips to eat after 30 minutes of lunch and dinner every day. One of the group also received Oolong tea thrice during meals. The other group was given some other drink and not the Oolong tea. On the last three days of the study period, feces were collected to measure the excretion of lipids.

And the result indicated that lipid excretion into feces was significantly higher in those people who consumed polyphenol-enriched Oolong tea. The study concluded that polyphenols in Oolong tea could increase lipid excretion into feces when people take high lipid diet.

Oolong tea reduces fat in two ways

Thus, we get two study reports that established that Oolong tea reduces fat in both the ways,

  1. by increasing energy expenditure (EE); and also
  2. by inhibiting the absorption of fats (the lipids get excreted)

Now let’s see what researchers say about the weight loss comparison between Oolong tea and Green tea.


Oolong Tea vs Green Tea- what’s the best Tea for Weight Loss?

We are not accepting anything without a research report. So, let’s know about a study report that indicates weight loss capacities of both the drinks – Oolong tea and Green tea.

This study was conducted by the Japanese in 2003. Apart from Chinese, Japanese are yet another clan that love to drink their tea. Japanese did this study to compare the benefits of green tea and oolong tea for weight loss. In this study, eleven female participants received three different beverages- Oolong tea; Green tea made with powdered green tea leaves; and water. Oolong tea was made by steeping the tea for 5 minutes where as green tea was made by dissolving the powdered green tea leaves in boiling water. The result gave the following findings:

  • Oolong tea had higher energy expenditure (EE) levels at the intervals of 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes which means Oolong tea kept burning fat for two hours with peak periods after every half an hour.
  • The peak level of energy expenditure was at 90 minutes (after one and a half hours of drinking tea). This was true for both, oolong tea as well as green tea. This peak period of EE levels remained till 120 minutes (from 90 to 120 minutes).
  • The concentrations of caffeine and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was much higher in the green tea. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) are powerful antioxidants that fight off free radicals. EGCG is said to inhibit lipid peroxidation.
  • The concentration of polymerized polyphenols was significantly higher in the oolong tea.

The conclusion was made that Oolong tea was more effective in energy expenditure (EE) as it did so from beginning till end (for two hours continuously). Also due to the presence of high polymerized polyphenols, oolong tea was concluded to burn fat more effectively. However, green tea is also good when it comes to weight loss but oolong tea is slightly better than green tea if we go by this study report.

This study also gives you a secret tip on drinking Oolong tea for weight loss! And what’s that?

Drink a cup of oolong tea 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to your physical activity to lose more weight!

Whether it’s your daily walk, workout at gym or yoga session, drink a cup of oolong tea half to one hour before you start your activity.

Let’s list the Benefits of Oolong Tea for Weight Loss

We have seen the study reports on why, how and what of Oolong tea for weight loss. Now let’s list the benefits of Oolong tea for weight loss clearly for the sake of convenience in understanding.

  1. Oolong tea boosts metabolism and keeps it high. Thanks to the polyphenols that increase energy expenditure (EE) levels and thus boost metabolism. Catechins, one of the polyphenols, probably also keeps your metabolism from slowing down while you are in the process of losing weight. So, it becomes easier for you to keep losing weight and also to maintain the weight loss when you drink Oolong tea.
  2. Oolong tea maintains lean body mass. Thanks to the combination of catechins and caffeine in this tea. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated in 2009 that the tea having both, catechins and caffeine, can burn more fat and also help in maintaining lean body mass as compared to those teas that either have catechins or caffeine.
  3. Oolong tea makes you burn more fat during exercising. You cannot escape exercises if you want to lose weight. No, just having oolong tea will not help lose weight but having oolong tea just at the right time before exercising can burn more fat, more than when you just exercise. Because Oolong tea has highest energy expenditure (EE) levels at 90 minutes after drinking it, you can make sure that you drink a cup of Oolong tea 1 and a half hours before you exercise. And then workout for at least half an hour because Oolong tea works till 2 hours after you drink it.
  4. Oolong tea blocks fat absorption- Refer to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s 2006 study report mentioned earlier in this article. It proved that after having Oolong tea, lipids were excreted instead of being absorbed by the body. So, if you love to have fatty foods now and then, you must develop a habit of drinking Oolong tea with your meals so that all the fat get flushed out of body and you don’t gain weight.

These were the benefits of oolong tea just for weight loss. There are many more health benefits of Oolong tea. Have a look at the following list to know what other health benefits you get when you drink Oolong tea.

Other Benefits of Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is a rich source of antioxidants and has a treasure of innumerable nutrients including vital vitamins (A, B, C, E and K) and minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, carotin, selenium, etc. It is also rich in folic acid, niacin amide and other detoxifying alkaloids. And because this tea is made with semi-fermentation process, the polyphenolic compounds remain intact that makes oolong tea even more beneficial for overall health.

  • Fights off harmful free radicals
  • Gives you healthy skin
  • Strengthens your bones
  • Controls diabetes
  • Has anti-cancer properties
  • Relieves stress
  • Increases alertness
  • Improves brain functions
  • Prevents tooth decay
  • Promotes heart health
  • And of course, helps in weight loss as well as weight management

Are there any side effects of Oolong tea?

We have been talking about Oolong tea benefits for weight loss and other health conditions only. But is there any side effect of Oolong tea? Some people, especially those who cannot handle caffeine in high amounts might face some difficulties when they consume oolong tea. As Oolong tea has high amounts of caffeine, it might lead to the following side effects in some people:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Palpitation
  • Confusion

However, if you still want to drink oolong tea for weight loss, you can do so by managing the quantity and strength of Oolong tea. Have less strong Oolong tea and have it only once a day.

 To neutralize the side effects of Oolong tea, you may do this:

  • Instead of having oolong tea with every meal, have it just once- half to one hour before exercising.
  • Don’t have full strength Oolong tea. Instead of using 1 tsp or so, use only 1/4 or 1/2 tsp to make your cup of Oolong tea

However, if you are very sensitive to caffeine or seriously prone to the side effects of caffeine, it’s better not to have any caffeinated drink including Oolong tea. Explore other ways to lose weight then. Pregnant women too should consult their doctor before having Oolong tea for weight loss or other benefits.

What to consider when making Oolong Tea for Weight Loss?

Oolong tea tastes good, whether you have it hot or cold. However, if you are consuming Oolong tea for weight loss, keep the following in mind:

  • Drink it hot if you want to lose weight with Oolong tea. According to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2013, consuming hot tea leads to a lower body mass index and also a smaller waist circumference. Having iced tea many mean higher Body Mass Index and larger waist circumference. So, have your Oolong tea hot and not cold.
  • Make Oolong tea using low temperature and steep for shorter time. Because high temperature might destroy the very healthy catechins in the oolong tea. These class of ponyphenols work a lot to make you lose weight. Best way is to steep your oolong tea in hot water just for 2-3 minutes rather than boiling it for longer time.

Let’s now get the recipe for making Oolong tea for weight loss.

How to make the perfect cup of Oolong Tea for Weight Loss?

You can buy Oolong tea leaves, powder or tea bags and make your tea for weight loss like this:

When making tea with Oolong tea leaves

Get this:

  • Oolong tea leaves- 3/4 or 1 tsp (use less when using finer tea leaves)
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Tea infuser / Strainer

Do this:

  • Bring the water to the boiling point but don’t let it boil. Put off the flame just when you start seeing big bubbles that surface on water before it starts boiling. Remember, high temperature of water can destroy the beneficial catechins that help you lose weight
  • Now pour this hot water into the cup
  • If using tea infuser, fill the Oolong tea leaves inside the infuser and place it in the cup. Let it brew for 2-3 minutes, covered or uncovered. Then remove the infuser and enjoy your hot cup of oolong tea for weight loss
  • If using strainer, place the tea leaves directly into the hot water and steep for 2-3 minutes. Strain the tea and have it.

When making tea with Oolong tea powder

Get this:

  • Oolong tea powder- 1 tsp
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Tea pot / Strainer

Do this:

  • Heat the water. Don’t boil it.
  • Place the tea powder inside the pot, if using tea pot.
  • Cover it and steep for 2-3 minutes
  • Pour the tea in a cup and have it.
  • If using a strainer, let the tea powder steep in the pot in which you have heated the water.
  • Place the tea powder in the hot water and cover it with the lid.
  • After 2-3 minutes, strain the tea and pour it in the cup
  • Enjoy your hot cup of Oolong tea.

When making tea with Oolong tea bag

Get this:


  • Oolong tea bag- 1
  • Hot water (not boiling water)- 1 cup

Do this:

  • Pour the water in a cup
  • Place the tea bag in the hot water
  • Let it steep for 2- 3 minutes
  • Take out the tea bag and sip your Oolong tea to get its weight loss benefits

How much oolong tea a day for weight loss?

If you have brought a high quality oolong tea, you just need to have 3 grams of Oolong tea a day. Infuse this quantity 3-5 times a day to make 3-5 cups of Oolong tea.

What is the best brand of Oolong Tea for Weight Loss?

Well, that’s just a marketing gimmick. As long as you are having Oolong tea, it doesn’t matter what brand you are drinking, you will get the benefits of Oolong tea depending upon what components are still left in it after processing. You may, however, consider the following points when buying Oolong tea.

  • It should be having a color that’s midway between green tea and black tea. This color of Oolong tea is due to its semi-oxidized state.
  • Choose a brand that plucks the tea leaves from high altitude. Cold climate ensures better nutrition in the tea. It is also richer in taste and aroma.
  • Buy a brand that doesn’t use pesticides for growing tea.
  • When you brew the tea, it should taste clean and floral.
  • The aftertaste of your Oolong should stay longer. After drinking the tea, your mouth should feel wet and silky. Also, you feel energized for many hours after drinking good quality Oolong tea.

However, the qualities that you will know after tasting the tea will mean buying a brand of tea first. So, buy small packets at first or if available, buy loose Oolong tea in smaller quantities. This will help you identify the good quality tea. If you are buying packaged brands of Oolong tea, read the label to know the place from where the Oolong tea has been sourced and whether or not pesticides have been used.

An Important Reminder about Oolong Tea and Weight Loss

Remember, Oolong tea can help you lose weight but just having this tea and not doing anything else to lose weight doesn’t work. Oolong tea speeds up the process of weight loss and helps in weight management but only when you exercise and control your diet along with having Oolong tea. So, you should be doing this for weight loss:

  • Exercise daily. It can be anything- aerobics, yoga, walking, workout in gym, just anything. Have a cup of Oolong tea 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to your exercise. This will double the rate of your weight loss.
  • Have balanced diet that doesn’t include too many fats or carbohydrates. Also have a cup of Oolong tea with your meals.
  • If you have a sweet tooth and can’t resist having sweets later in the day, you can drink a cup of Oolong tea (without sugar!) in the afternoon. This will take care of your late day sweet cravings and reduced energy levels.

If you use Oolong tea wisely, it can prove to be a very good weight loss aid for you.

About Sara

Sara is a Boston-based registered dietitian who works with clients to improve their health by optimizing nutrition. You can find her running, sweating in hot yoga, cooking in the kitchen, dining out, or exploring. Eating Food-Mostly Plants, and improving our relationship with food, is the secret to lifelong health in her eyes.

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