Oolong is broadly categorized into four main types- based on its place of origin.The four main categories are Min Bei (North Fujian), Min Nan (South Fujian), Guangdong and Taiwan oolongs.
Min Bei Oolong
Min Bei teas include the Wuyi ‘Rock’ teas, Min Bei Narcissus, Dragon Whisker tea among others. In fact, the Wuyi teas represent some of the most famous and expensive oolongs in the world include the four famous trees of Big Red Robe, Iron Arhat, White Chicken Crown and Golden Tortoise. These four type easily cost over a hundred per 100g and are considered tribute tea- i.e. tea given as gifts to valued guests.
Apart from the big four, Mt Wuyi area is also famous for countless varieties of oolong including Wuyi Narcissus and Wuyi Rougui. All in all, area known as Mt Wuyi has 36 peaks and 99 cliffs, spanning an area of 70 square kilometers. Its average temperature is a moderate 18 C and has ample rainfall to nourish the tea plants. Coupled with the unique rocky soil of Wuyi, the rock teas of Wuyi have a distinctive aura to them that has endeared itself to lovers throughout the generations.
Big Red Robe in particular is the most famous of them all, no less a guest than Richard Nixon was a former recipient of this gift as a valued guest of Chairman Mao. In 2005, a mere 20g of Big Red Robe fetched $20,800 RMB at an auction, cementing its fame.
Apart from the Wuyi area, the Jianou area is also a main tea producing area- being the origin of Min Bei Narcissus which has since been transplanted to neighboring towns including Jian Yang and Zhaowu. Jianou is also famous for a variety of Oolong known as Min Bei Oolong and Dragon Whiskers Tea.
Min Nan Oolong
Min Nan is the biggest oolong producing area with 50% of all oolong leaves produced originating from this area. It is also home to more than 40 varieties of oolong. In Min Nan area itself, Anxi province is the biggest oolong producing region with the most famous variety grown here being the Iron Goddess. Other main areas include Quangzhou, Zhangzhou and Xiamen.
Not only is Min Nan the biggest oolong producing area, it is also the biggest exporter with exports going to Hong Kong, Japan, South East Asia and even the United States.
The four famous tea trees of Anxi province include the Iron Goddess, Ben Shan, Golden Osmanthus and the strangely named Hairy Crab.
Just right across the ocean from Fujian province is the nation of Taiwan which is also one of the four major oolong producers. Taiwan is believed to have started producing oolong in the 19th century and given its proximity to Fujian province, it is not surprising that their production methods mirrors their neighbors. In the 1970s, the popularity of the Dong Ding Oolong propelled Taiwan to prominence and an estimated 60% of Taiwanese consume tea on a daily basis.
The oolong producing areas of Taiwan include Taipei, Taoyuan, Xinzhu and Miaoli and the most famous varieties include Dong Ding, Song Bo, High Mountain Oolong, Wen Mountain tea and Southern Harbor tea.
The last major oolong producing area is also a neighbor of Fujian, the province of Guangdong. The main varieties of oolongs produced in Guangdong include the Phoenix Narcissus, the Phoenix Dancong and the Lingtou Dancong.
Main oolong producing areas of Guangdong include Chaoan, Raoping and Fengshun.
There are other upcoming oolong producing areas such as Anhui but by far the biggest are the four areas above. As you can see, the province of Fujian plays an integral role in the development of oolong, just as it does in black tea. Coupled with the fact that a lot of tea was exported via the port of Xiamen (Amoy) in the early days, it is no surprise Fujian features prominently in the history of tea.