Oolong Tea and Weight Loss

A few days ago I was writing about yoga and weight loss. Yesterday I wrote about tea. Let’s mash those topics together and talk about tea and weight loss, specifically, oolong tea and weight loss.

Why oolong tea in particular?

Because it is widely believed in East Asia that drinking tea helps keep you thin, especially oolong tea. In Chinese medicine, oolong tea is believed to burn fat, so it is often served with meals containing fatty foods. The important question, though, is, “Is this true?”

Well, maybe. There is some evidence that:

  • – Oolong tea increases metabolism over and above the increase that can be attributed to the caffeine content of the tea.
  • – Drinking tea (particularly green and oolong tea) helps to burn fat.

The thing is, “there is some evidence that…” is not the same thing as, “it is proven that…”

Thinking outside the question of drinking tea, let us instead consider that generally tea is considered healthier than coffee. Let us also consider that green and oolong teas are generally drunk clear, where coffee is often mixed with sugar, milk, cream, and who knows what else at your local Starbucks. Since some of these “coffee drinks” contain over 500 calories, you’re adding 25% to your daily calorie count with a single cup.

The simple act of substituting tea for coffee could explain much (all?) of the observed weight loss from drinking tea.

If you’re a non-coffee/non-tea drinker who decides to try oolong tea for weight loss, well, you’re now consuming caffeine, which, in addition to boosting metabolism, is an appetite suppressant. And you’re substituting that tea for some other liquid intake. Unless the liquid in question is water, you are once again replacing calories with non-calories, again perhaps explaining much (all?) of the observed weight loss.

So why, then, serve oolong tea, in particular, with fatty pork or Peking Duck? Maybe because it’s pleasant to the taste, vaguely sweet and drunk clear. Clear tea is excellent for cleansing the palette, and fatty, greasy dishes require a palette cleanser. In a society that is generally not prone to obesity, the linking of oolong tea and fatty foods may simply have morphed into, “Oolong tea make you thin.”


My lovely wife gave me a box of it for Christmas a couple years back. I hadn’t had it in a while, and relearned how much I enjoy it. Simply put, I find oolong tea to be delicious. If you like it, drink it. If you don’t, don’t. There is simply not enough evidence to prove it to be effective for weight loss.