There are as great a number of beliefs as there are spellings, as to the origin and of the name Oolong. One version is based on a poem from the Qing dynasty that is call the Wuji Tea song. Thus it is believed that the name comes from Wuji mountains of northern Fujian. Another is that it is from the name of a tribute tea cake called the Dragon-Phoenix tea cake, eventually shortened to Black Dragon Tea as it was long, curly and dark.
Wulong Cha, wu lung caa or oolong cha all mean the same thing – Black Dragon Tea.
There are also two legends on the origins of the name and discovery of Oolong tea.
1# One story tells of a tea farmer by the name of Wu Liang. It is said that while picking tea in his fields one day he spotted a deer. Thinking this deer would be great addition to dinner he dropped his basket of leaves and ran after it.
Days later when he remembered he had left his basket of leaves out in the sun, he went to look for them only to find that they had withered and turned a shade of brown.
As most farmers will attest, and (Wu Liang being a fugal farmer) no one wants to see their work go to waste so he brewed the leaves none the less. What he discovered we now know and enjoy as Oolong a sweet and aromatic brew.
It is believed that the tea carried his name, Wu Liang but was changed over time to Wu long and now to Oolong. Just as the name of cha the original and Chinese word for Tea has been changed and adapted through various cultures.
#2 The second legend of Oolong tells again of tea farmer. This time the farmer was out in his drying field inspecting the leaves as they dried under the sun. When all of a sudden out of the corner of his eye he caught a quick movement of something large and black, he soon found himself looking into the eyes of a Black dragon. As everyone knows black dragons are ferocious creatures, so the only sensible thing to do was to stop what he was doing and run.
It is said that it took many days for the farmer to come up with enough courage to return to the drying field and see if the fierce creature had left. When he finally did, he discovered the leaves had all withered and turned a rich dark brown. The farmer of course could not bear to see his field of dried leaves all gone to waste. So he gathered them up, took them home and brewed a pot of tea to see if all was lost.
The rest is history, we now all enjoy the benefits of this amazing tea apply named after the black dragon that began it’s origin. Others say that it wasn’t really a dragon, but actually just a black snake. And as dragons can be seen as equally either malevolent creatures or bearers of good fortune. It was possibly very wise that the farmer choose to run home or maybe it was to the nearest town. And maybe not to save his own life, but get the village to see this majestic dragon in HIS drying field. Because for whatever reason, in doing so it definitely brought about much good fortune not just to him but to the world.
On a side note: Personally I think the dragon breathed its firey breath whilst strolling through the fields and gently toasted the leaves.