Oolong in Chinese means black dragon and originated in the 18th century in the Fujian province of China. It is a semi-processed tea with a very short oxidation process and is predominantly produced in certain regions of China.

Oolong tea is partially fermented. Leaves are picked, allowed to ferment, rolled and fired. Firing halts fermentation when it is partly complete. Therefore, the leaves and the liquor have more colour than green tea, but it is not as dark as black tea.

In general terms freshly picked shoots are withered and the leaves are rolled and heated in a warm room, shaded from light so that they oxidize quickly. The leaves are dried and then packed. However the finer details of the production of Oolong can vary from country to country, region to region and the character of the tea reflects this. Browse the Dilmah range to discover what’s on offer. They come from some of the finest tea gardens in the world.


Oolong Tea by Dilmah

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Plucking fresh leaves

The fresh tea leaves are plucked by hand and sometime using special machines.


Sorting / Cleaning

The quality of the leaf determines the quality of the tea. As such the fresh leaves are sorted once more at the point of weighing ensuring that there are no coarse mature leaves and twigs that could affect the taste of tea.



Withering reduces the moisture content and makes the tea leaf pliable which prevents it from breaking during ‘rolling’. It also activates certain elements in the leaf essential for produce quality tea. Leaves are spread out on withering troughs and a flow of cool air helps the process. Withering could happen indoors or out of doors depending on the region and tradition of tea manufacture.



Rolling brings out the flavor of the tea by bruising the leaves and starts the process of oxidation. An art perfected over centuries, rolling of Oolong tea is done in much smaller machines compared to those used in black tea manufacture. Again, the method of rolling will depend on where the tea is made.


Fermentation (Short)

Rolled leaf is fermented for a short time at a lower temperature than black tea. The duration and temperature will differ depending on the style of tea. The semi-fermented state of the tea is reflected in its character which falls somewhere between green tea and black tea.



Pan-frying preserves the tea leaves for future consumption and modifies certain elements in the tea leaf to create some complex and amazing flavour profiles. The duration and method of pan-frying can differ from tea to tea and region to region.


Drying (Firing)

Hot air is passed over the fermenting tea leaves to deactivate fermenting enzymes. This process is critical as otherwise the tea leaves will fast deteriorate affecting its quality. It also further reduces the moisture levels.