Oolong tea is probably the most universally loved tea type out there. Why? Because it can cater for all tastes. From the floral to the fruity, from the creamy to the roasted, Oolong has all the bases covered no matter what your preference.
The reason for this wide variation in flavour profiles is because Oolong is a tea which goes through the most steps of processing. At each stage the tea masters make decisions which can fundamentally shift the tone and aromatics of a tea.
The basic processing steps of Oolongs are:
- Solar Withering
- Indoor Withering
- Shaking (and sometimes rolling)
- Pile Oxidation
- Fixing (usually with hot air)
- Bake drying
- Shaping and sorting
- Extra Roasting
Phew, that is a lot of steps and from field to cup an average Oolong undergoes many days of processing. Throw into the mix all of the cultivars and terroirs and the ability to age Oolongs and you have a chameleon of the tea world which, in the right hands, can be made to express the most nuanced flavours.