Anti-obesity action of oolong tea

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Jan;23(1):98-105. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0800766.


Objective: Oolong tea is traditionally reported to have anti-obesity and hypolipidaemic effects. The present study was performed to clarify whether oolong tea prevented obesity induced in mice by the oral administration of a high-fat diet for 10 weeks.

Design: High-fat diet-induced obese mice were treated with oolong tea for 10 weeks. The effects of various active fractions isolated from oolong tea on noradrenaline-induced lipolysis were examined with isolated fat cells and a cell-free system consisting of lipid droplets and hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).

Results: The mean food consumption was not significantly different between high-fat diet-treated mice and high-fat plus oolong tea diet-treated mice. Oolong tea prevented the obesity and fatty liver induced by a high-fat diet. A water extract of oolong tea enhanced noradrenaline-induced lipolysis, and the active substance was identified as caffeine. Caffeine enhanced noradrenaline-induced lipolysis in fat cells without a concomitant increase in HSL activity and also accelerated the hormone-induced lipolysis in a cell-free system consisting of lipid droplets and HSL, but not in the cell-free system with sonicated lipid droplets and HSL. Oolong tea extract inhibited pancreatic lipase activity.

Conclusion: It was demonstrated that the anti-obesity effects of oolong tea in high-fat diet-treated mice might be due partly to the enhancing effect of caffeine isolated from oolong tea on noradrenaline-induced lipolysis in adipose tissue, and to the inhibitory action of some other substance in oolong tea on pancreatic lipase activity. Caffeine was found to enhance lipolysis through acting on lipid droplets but not on HSL. The results suggest that oolong tea may be an effective crude drug for the treatment of obesity and fatty liver caused by a high-fat diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Cell-Free System
  • Dietary Fats
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Female
  • Lipase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Lipolysis
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Pancreas / enzymology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plants, Medicinal / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tea* / chemistry
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Tea
  • Caffeine
  • Lipase