The origins of oolong (or wulong) tea are shrouded in mystery, but the name, meaning 'black dragon', is a good fit for the leaves of Wuyi Mountain 'Rock Tea', which are dark from oxidation and roasting, and long and wiry from being rolled and twisted during shaping. Oolong teas are products of their terrain: rocky cliffs and high mountains, as well as specific cultivars and roasting techniques.
Taiwan specializes in oolong tea, where they use a distinctive shaping technique to roll the leave into tiny balls. The high mountains of the island contribute to the linkage of oolong tea with high rocky cliffs, and many of the famous teas of Taiwan are named for the mountains where they grow: Alishan and Dong Ding, for example. Taiwan oolongs cover the whole spectrum of roasting, from unroasted 'green' oolongs to heavily roasted.
There are many myths and legends about the teas from Wuyi Mountain, also known as yan cha - 'rock tea'. The dramatic cliffs inspire stories of teas picked by monkeys or birds, and specific cultivars have been developed over hundreds of years to bring out unique flavors. The 'mother' of all Wuyi Yancha, Shui Xian (often translated as Narcissus Fragrance or Water Fairy) has given birth to some of the most storied and sought after teas, such as Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) and Tie Luo Han (Iron Arhat or Iron Buddha).