Two distinct styles of oolong are manufactured in China. Each style has a characteristic appearance that is easy to identify. The color and shape of oolong tea is a result of the specific steps of leaf manufacture and the amount of oxidation that the tea undergoes.
The photographs above clearly show the two primary styles of oolong tea:
Left: Semiball-rolled style – made in southern Fujian Province
Right: Strip-style – made in northern Fujian Province and Guangdong Province
Oolongs from these places have unique taste and aroma characteristics and represent the terroir of their place. Semiball-rolled oolongs are light in style, green in taste and floral in aroma. The strip-style oolongs are more full-bodied and deeper in flavor, dark and woodsy in taste and fruity in flavor.
Add to this the element of roasting or no roasting ( semiball-rolled oolongs are given a light to medium roast, or can remain unroasted; strip-style oolongs are given a light, medium or heavy roast ) and the choices begin to increase.
Lastly, oolongs can be drunk young, rested or aged. Which means that oolong enthusiasts must consider three main variables when selecting one or several oolongs to drink: style of oolong, the amount of roast, and age of the tea.