Oolong Tea 乌龙茶

It is possible to find good examples of amateur-made white and green tea—not so with oolong. Its name meaning “black dragon,” great oolong is one of the vaunted productions of tea for which importers, competition judges, and tea lovers will spend a lifetime scouring for. The category itself is so broad that it is difficult to narrow into a concise terminology. If there is commonality, it is this: great oolongs are grown in special terroir (high mountain slopes, jagged ferruginous cliffs, serpentine and fertile river valleys) and require both a nonpareil understanding of agriculture, and, tea processing, to achieve a finished result of character: dynamic, clear and distinct flavors. Finished oolong can be undulated longwise “strip” leaves or compressed bud-set “ball” coils, and almost anything in between. No style challenges its supposed borders more than the black dragon: you will find leaf-like oolongs greener than green teas, and meticulously rolled pearls bruised soundly into black tea territory. From creamy and floral, to rose and honey, to toasted caramel and vanilla spice—oolong contains multitudes.