Tea aficionados and weight loss buffs have a common interest in oolong tea, a Chinese tea whose name means “black dragon.” For years, it has been touted as the safest weight loss supplement, owing to the fact that it’s made from completely natural ingredients and can be consumed every day without any side effects.

Oolong falls somewhere in between green and black tea in terms of production. Green tea leaves are used fresh, while black tea requires the leaves to dry in the sun and oxidize completely (thus turning them black). Leaves for oolong tea are allowed to oxidize partially. Depending on the production and quality of leaves used, oolong can range in taste from sweet, fruity, and honey-like to thick, woodsy, and somewhat bitter.

The use of oolong tea for weight loss comes from one of its key ingredients, alkaloid caffeine. Unlike many caffeine sources, oolong does not get its caffeine from the fermentation process, but from the leaves and how long they are brewed or steeped. Alkaloid caffeine is known to induce thermogenesis, or cause the body to produce heat and therefore increase its metabolism. This in turn leads to higher fat-burning rates. This is why weight loss experts recommend having a cup of oolong tea about half an hour before exercise, as it boosts the benefits of your workout.

In addition, oolong tea helps reduce food cravings. Certain chemicals in tea send signals to the brain that the stomach is full, or suppress signals that make you think you’re hungry. These chemicals are found in higher proportions in oolong compared to other types of tea.

Scientists have proven the effects of oolong tea through blind medical studies. One of them proved that regular consumption of oolong tea for six weeks helped boost weight loss, with subjects getting a uniform diet and exercise. A separate study showed that the tea caused higher fat oxidation rates in men, and a third one concluded that large quantities of oolong can lead to significant weight loss.

Of course, oolong tea alone cannot substitute for eating right and getting enough exercise. While it’s great to bring along, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is still to watch what you eat and get in at least half an hour of exercise a day. Throw in the enhancing effects of oolong and you’ve got a mix that will help you reach your goal in no time!

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