Food & Drinks


Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning

Overview Information

Oolong tea is a product made from the leaves, buds, and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the same plant that is also used to make black tea and green tea.

Some people take oolong tea by mouth to sharpen thinking skills and improve alertness. It is also taken by mouth for weight loss, to prevent cancer, to prevent brittle bones (osteoporosis), to boost the immune system, and to treat diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). But there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

Oolong tea contains caffeine which affects thinking and alertness. Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles.

Uses & Effectiveness?

Likely Effective for

  • Mental alertness. Drinking oolong tea or other caffeinated beverages throughout the day seems to help maintain alertness and mental performance. Combining caffeine with sugar as an "energy drink" seems to improve mental performance better than either caffeine or sugar alone.

Possibly Effective for

  • Preventing ovarian cancer. Women who regularly drink tea, including black tea, green tea, or oolong tea, appear to have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never or rarely drink tea.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Skin allergies (eczema). Early research suggests that drinking of oolong tea improves eczema that hasn't responded to other treatments. It may take 1 or 2 weeks of treatment to see improvement.
  • Diabetes. Some research suggests that drinking oolong tea for 30 days might lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. However, tea drinking doesn't seem to prevent diabetes.
  • High blood pressure. Some research in Chinese people suggests that drinking oolong tea or green tea daily prevents developing high blood pressure. Drinking more tea seems to lower the risk even more.
  • Obesity. Early research suggests that drinking oolong tea does not decrease body weight in overweight or obese people.
  • Brittle bones (osteoporosis). There is some evidence that drinking oolong tea for 10 years is associated with stronger bones (increased bone mineral density).
  • Rotting Teeth.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
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More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of oolong tea for these uses.

Side Effects & Safety

Drinking moderate amounts of oolong tea is LIKELY SAFE for most adults.

Drinking too much oolong tea, such as more than three cups per day is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. High amounts of oolong can cause side effects due to the caffeine in oolong tea. These side effects can range from mild to serious and include headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, seizures (convulsions), and confusion. Also, people who drink oolong tea or other caffeinated beverages all the time, especially in large amounts, can develop psychological dependence.

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Drinking very high amounts of oolong tea containing more than 10 grams of caffeine is LIKELY UNSAFE. Doses of oolong tea this high might cause death or other severe side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

ChildrenL: Oolong tea is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth by children in amounts commonly found in foods. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, drinking oolong tea in small amounts is POSSIBLY SAFE. Do not drink more than 2 cups a day of oolong tea. This amount of tea provides about 200 mg of caffeine. Drinking more than this amount during pregnancy is POSSIBLY UNSAFE and has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and other negative effects, including symptoms of caffeine withdrawal in newborns and lower birth weight.

If you are breast feeding, drinking more than 2 cups a day of oolong tea is POSSIBLY UNSAFE and might cause your baby to become more irritable and have more bowel movements.

Anxiety disorders: The caffeine in oolong tea might make anxiety disorders worse.

Bleeding disorders: There is some reason to believe that the caffeine in oolong tea might slow blood clotting, though this hasn't been shown in people. Use caffeine cautiously if you have a bleeding disorder.

Heart problems: Caffeine in oolong tea can cause irregular heartbeat in certain people. If you have a heart condition, use caffeine with caution.

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Diabetes: The caffeine in oolong day might affect blood sugar levels. Use oolong tea with caution if you have diabetes.

Diarrhea: Oolong tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in oolong tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.

Glaucoma: The caffeine in oolong tea increases the pressure inside the eye. The increase occurs within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes.

High blood pressure: The caffeine in oolong tea might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, this doesn't seem to happen in people who regularly drink oolong tea or other caffeinated products.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Oolong tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in oolong tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.

Obesity: The caffeine in oolong tea might affect the sensitivity of insulin in the body in patients who are obese.

Brittle bones (osteoporosis): Drinking oolong tea can increase the amount of calcium that is flushed out in the urine. This might weaken bones. If you have osteoporosis, don't drink more than 3 cups of oolong tea per day.

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