The distinctive family of teas known as oolong is believed to have originated in the Wu Yi mountains along the western border of Fujian province.
This variety of tea has been further refined and perfected in the lush green mountains of Taiwan, after Chinese planters brought it to the island in the 17th century. Known as "High Mountain Oolung Tea" (gao shan oolung cha), the Taiwan varietals have become renowned among tea connoisseurs as the "non plus ultra" of all teas.
Oolong embraces a wide variety of leaf styles and flavors and ranges in color from bright green to nearly black. The rich flavor and fragrant aroma of oolong result from a process often referred to as "fermentation" but which is really an oxidizing action. This effect is produced after withering (which allows the leaves to soften) by tumbling or otherwise bruising the surface of the leaves in order to break down their cells and release enzymes which darken when exposed to the air. Once the tea has achieved the desired color and flavour development, the leaves are usually rolled or twisted and oxidation is halted by drying.
The best oolong teas are always totally handmade. This requires great skill and long experience on the part of the tea maker in order to control the cycles of fermentations, rollings, and roastings necessary to achieve perfection. No machine has yet been invented that can match the skills of experienced oolong tea makers in producing the delicate elegance of High Mountain Oolong Tea.