Oolong tea is gently rolled after picking, allowing its essential oils to slowly oxidize. This reaction to the air darkens the leaf and produces distinctive fragrances. Once the leaf has developed properly, the tea maker must stop the oxidation by heating it rapidly in a process called ‘panning.’ The leaf is then rolled into its final shape. Producing this handcrafted tea properly is extremely labor intensive. The tea maker must carefully balance many elements in the critical first few hours, including weather conditions, leaf quality, and oxidation time. Depending on the processing method, the resulting tea can be anywhere from a green to a black. The finest oolongs are often prepared and enjoyed Gong Fu style (in a small clay pot for multiple infusions) to savor their complex flavor and aromas.
The fermentation of Oolong Tea is 30% – 60%. As often said, if you drink oolong, the natural aroma may linger into your mouth and make your throat much comfortable. The name of oolong is said to be an enigma to Chinese tea history. Nobody knows if it is named after a place or any variety of the plant. And, although the pinyin for oolong is “Wu Long cha”, which means black dragon, nobody can tell if the name “oolong” has any relation with “dragon”, which traditionally taken as the Chinese lucky indication.
In the traditional chinese method of making tea all forms of tea are roasted in a wok (by hand) to stop the tea leaves from oxidizing any further. For green teas this was usually done within two to three days of harvesting, while black teas are done after about a month. Oolong tea is roughly in the middle of green and black tea.
Store Oolong tea in the sealed dry container at room temperature with no direct exposure to sunlight would be ok. Refrigerated storage is also recommended, but not required.
Some Oolongs are close to green tea and have a light, vegetal flavor. The liquor is often dark yellow. Other Oolongs are singificantly darker thanks to processing which includes greater oxydation, fermentation, and roasting. They have a roasted or smokey aroma and taste. You don’t need many leaves to get a fairly strong cup of reddish liquor.