Wulong tea 乌龙茶, a.k.a Oolong tea, is an advanced multi-season tea that was developed in Fujian and Guangdong provinces of southeastern China, and later on in Taiwan. Tea names such as Tie Guan Yin and Da Hong Pao, are among hundreds of cultivars and varieties of the Chinese wulong family, while others such as Milky Oolong and Oriental Beauty, usually related to Taiwanese and Vietnamese wulong teas.
Wulong tea undergoes a controlled oxidation process in different creative ways. Its meticulous production is arguably the most complex out of all teas. Compared to more ancient types of tea like Pu'er tea or Green tea, this is a relatively modern tea that is at the forefront of the tea world in terms of development. Wulong tea is a fresh seasonal tea that goes into infinite details and can only be improved in rare cases. The wulong tea profile is very complex with a wide range of aromas, flavors and tasting notes that are produced naturally. Like pu'er tea, wulong is divided into two main categories: light wulong and dark wulong.
The original version of wulong tea known as qing xiang 清香 - "sweet and refined aroma" in Chinese. Light wulong has developed in the center of Fujian Province, most notably around Anxi County where Tie Guan Yin is being produced traditionally, one of the most well-known and popular types of tea. To this day, other varieties of light wulong are grown throughout Fujian Province in various special ways, most of them esoteric and kept for local audiences only.
The leaves are picked at their peak growing season as a set of 3-4 leaves without a bud, and undergo withering under the sun (sai qing 曬青) and initial rolling. The leaves then move to the oxidation process in movement and rest simultaneously, while maintaining remarkably precise schedule, temperature and humidity conditions, a procedure that lasts several days. The finishing of the leaves varies between the different types of wulongs, some are folded like Tie Guan Yin, while others are lightly compressed like Zhang Ping Shui Xian, or remain loose in their rolled original shape. Lastly, the leaves undergo a quick heating procedure known as firing.