Oolong teas are partially oxidized and can range in character from a green to a black tea. The picked leaves are left to wither and then are usually gently rolled, prompting oxidation. This reaction of the essential oils to the air darkens the leaf and produces distinctive fragrances. This handcrafted tea is extremely labor intensive, as the tea maker must carefully balance many shifting elements in the critical first few hours after harvest, including weather conditions, leaf quality and oxidation time.
This type of tea is traditionally made in China and Taiwan. The finest varieties are often prepared and enjoyed gong fu style, in a gaiwan or small clay pot in order to savor their complex flavors and aromas through multiple infusions.