Oolong tea is harvested from the later season and can be processed within a wide range of oxidation levels from 20-80%. Lower oxidation levels bring out more flowery character and higher oxidation levels bring out more fruity character of the tea.
Harvest- Two leaves and a bud, Three leaves and a bud, Four leaves and a bud
Withering- Reduction of the water in the leaf to make malleable
Rolling/Manipulation- Breaking the cell walls of the tea leaf without breaking the leaf to accelerate the oxidation process. Leaf breakage leads to more tannins and negative character
Oxidation- Piling the leaf to generate warmth to accelerate the oxidative browning of the leaf
Kill Green - When the tea producer determines the optimal oxidation level has been achieved heat is applied to denature the enzymes responsible for oxidation
Rolling/Shaping- Manipulating the leaf to lock in the freshness of the leaf and creating the shape of the final product
Drying- The final step to lock in the flavor, character, and stability of the tea.
Each tea producer will process their tea to their own specification, so additional steps may be applied. The steps above are the basic processing steps.