Wu long tea (also known as Oolong tea) has been gaining popularity and a reputation for being an amazing fat burner. Web sites like this one proclaim it to be the “world’s most powerful fat burner” (if I had a dime for every time I heard that), and even market it as a “slimming tea.”
The question is, of course, is there anything to these claims? To find out, let’s do a little investigating…
Wu long tea differs from black tea and green tea in that it is partially fermented (green tea is not fermented, and black tea is fully fermented). Recently, the health benefits of all three teas have been gaining exposure in the mainstream press.
Wu long tea contains only half as much EGCG as green tea, but instead is higher in polymerized polyphenols, which may contribute to its fat burning properties.
In fact, if you visit PubMed, and perform a search for “oolong tea” or “green tea” you can review the abstracts of over 100 studies performed with these teas or their main constituents.
Truly, it appears all teas (particularly green and oolong teas) are the real deal when it comes to real, health-boosting benefits.
And what about weight loss?
Well, there are several small studies that do validate Wu long teas ability to elevate the metabolism (see J Med Invest. 2003 Aug;50(3-4):170-5, J Nutr. 2001 Nov;131(11):2848-52, Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Jan;23(1):98-105), and one even suggests it may reduce dietary lipid absorption (see Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;60(11):1330-6).
Two of these are human studies, and one is performed on mice.
One study, performed on 11 Japanese females, found that the consumption of Wu long tea increased energy expenditure by 10% (in comparison, green tea generated only a 4% increase in energy expenditure). However, this study showed a much more modest increase in energy expenditure.
So what can we conclude from these studies?
First of all, although there is a trend towards weight loss, we need to be careful before jumping to conclusions. Both studies were performed on a very small group of participants. Such studies are less valuable than those performed on a much larger cross section of individuals.
Second, even if the conclusions reached are completely accurate, the actual number of additional calories you’ll burn as a result of consuming this tea is relatively minor (anywhere between 100-200, depending on a large number of factors). So if you continue to overconsume calories in a significant manner, don’t expect either Wu long or green tea to do anything for you.
Personally, I’m quite excited by the overall health benefits offered by both green tea and wu long tea. I think either one is a valuable addition to any fat burner — for their metabolism boosting characteristics, as well as others beneficial to those looking to lose weight (green tea may be useful as a glucose regulator, for instance). Add in their powerful antioxidant and cancer fighting abilities, and you’ve got a fantastic, great tasting supplement.
However, I’d be extremely hesitant to recommend wu long tea as “the world’s most powerful fat burner.” It sure as heck isn’t that. A good supplement? Absolutely. A “20 lbs. in 20 days” solution to weight loss?
Also, be aware that there are many “wu long tea scams” online—retailers selling wu long tea as a miraculous weight loss “cure-all.” Don’t be fooled; now that you know the facts you know that they don’t substantiate such claims.