Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea. It is often considered to be somewhere in betweenGreen andBlack tea,, with both light and dark notes. Different types of Oolongs vary in their levels of oxidation. Traditional styled Oolong tends to be more oxidized than modern style Oolongs. However, both styles are famously known for the ball shape of their dry leaves. This shape comes from the process of rolling the leaves in on rolling machines that roll the leaves in circular motions after the leaves are first withered, oxidized in large spinning bamboo drums which hold the aromatic tea juices and bruise the leave. These processes are meant to extract the juices of the tea leaves and bring them to the surface of the leaves. During this process there are a multitude of chemical reactions that produce different complex flavors and aromas. The leaves are then rolled in cloth sacks by hand and machines which press the leaves with intermittent drying and loosening in order for even more flavor extraction before the leaves are dried.
In the traditional style, once the leaves are dried the dry leaf is roasted most commonly over charcoal fires of woods with a flavor profile with which tea masters desire to enhance the flavor of the tea. Roasting the leaves brings out darker notes and deeper floral notes.
Modern style oolongs are focused on preserving the bright fresh lightness of the leaves and also preserve the greenness in the finished tea. Modern oolong has bright floral flavors and aromas similar to magnolia and lilac, often with a cleansing sour flavor.
Oolong teas are almost exclusively produced in China and Taiwan.
Chinese Oolongs: Fujian Province
Anxi Tie Guan Yin, or Anxi Iron Goddess of Mercy, is a famous Oolong that is ball rolled and enjoyed both roasted and unroasted with a floral aroma and lasting sweet flavor. The liquor color of this tea depends on whether it is roasted. Unroasted, it is green, roasted, it is golden.
Anxi Huang Jin Gui, or Anxi Golden Cassia is a ball rolled Oolong known for the yellow color of its dry leaves and yellow liquor. The flavor of this tea known for its smooth sweetness and lasting nutty taste.
Anxi Ben Shan, or Anxi Original Mountain, is a lightly roasted ball rolled Oolong with a complex flavor of both high and low notes that include floral and nutty tastes.
Anxi Mao Xie, or Anxi Hairy Crab, is a ball roasted Oolong characterized by the hair on its leaves. This tea has a thick, sweet flavor with less floral notes.
Anxi Jin Guan Yin, or Golden Guanyin, is another ball roasted Oolong with bright, slightly sweet vegetal flavors and a sweet mineral aroma.
Wu Yi Da Hong Pao, or Wu Yi Big Red Robe, is a famous Chinese roasted Oolong that is charcoal roasted. This tea has a copper-gold color and sweet fruity roasted flavor.
Wu Yi Shui Jin Gui, or Wu Yi Golden Water Turtle, another roasted Oolong, is noted for its dark chocolate aroma and floral taste. However, this tea does not go bitter.
Wu Yi Tie Luo Han, or Wu Yi Iron Monk, is a roasted Oolong with dark chocolate, roasted, sweet, mineral flavor and creamy aftertaste.
Wu Yi Bai Ji Guan, or Wu Yi White Cockscomb, is characterized by its yellow/brown colored dried leaves. This is a rare Chinese Oolong with a sweet, floral, and fruiting flavor and light liquor.
Wu Yi Rou Gui is a roasted Oolong characterized by its aromatic dry, cinnamon flavors.
Wu Yi Shui Xian is a roasted Oolong known for its refreshing floral flavors and smoothness. This tea is also known for its notes of honey.
Taiwan is in close proximity to China’s Fujian province and is most famous for its Oolong teas. Taiwan is where the modern style of Oolong tea production originated.
Jin Xuan, or Golden Lily, is a famous ball rolled Taiwanese Oolong with light a golden finished leaf color and lightly golden liquor. This tea is known for its creamy viscosity and milky aroma.
Si Ji Chun, Four Seasons of Spring, is a fresh green ball rolled Oolong that is lightly oxidized and lightly roasted. This tea has a mineral, fruity flavor and rich, bright gardenia aroma with a light amber liquor.
Cuiyu, or Green Jade/Emerald Oolong, is a bright green ball rolled Oolong that is lightly oxidized with yellowish green liquor and a floral flavor.
Qing Xin, or Green Heart, is a light green ball rolled Oolong with sweet bright floral aroma and sweet creamy flavor.
Nantou Dong Ding, or Frozen Peak Oolong, is a ball rolled Oolong typically with a slight roast and lower oxidation. This tea has a light color and floral aroma with sweet, creamy, fruity flavor.
Muzha Tie Guan Yin, or Iron Goddess, is a heavy roasted ball rolled Oolong with a deep roasted, minty aroma and a roasted slightly sweet flavor.
Wen Shan Bao Zhong, or Wen Shan Wrapped Kind, is a strip Oolong that is only slightly oxidized, and therefore remarkably green with a light green liquor. This tea has a smooth, toasty, butter flavor with a floral, sweet aroma.
Dong Fang Mei Ren, or Oriental Beauty, is a strip Oolong tea that is heavily oxidized with a goof amount of buds in the finished tea product. This tea has a fruity, floral aroma and famously sweet taste.
Gao Shan, or High Mountain, is a ball rolled Oolong that is less oxidized and unroasted with lighter green colors in the finished leaves and light golden liquor. This tea has sweet milky flavors and a floral aroma.
If you’re a fan of Oolong tea, tell us what you’d like to try and we’ll look into sourcing it! Have a favorite flavor profile? Let us know below!
Check out our Tea-Sources!