Wu long (also Wu-long, or ooLong) is literally ‘black dragon’ tea, but they say the name originally had nothing to do with dragons; rather, it was named after its discoverer Wu Liang.
Wu Liang was out picking tea one day. After collecting a good load his eye was caught by a river deer. He stopped to slay the beast and when he got home he got distracted by the preparation of it, quite forgetting to dry out his precious tea.
By the time he remembered about it a day or so later, the tea had started to change colour – he was worried that it might have gone bad, but he didn’t want to let good tea go to waste so he finished preparing it anyway.
When he got through with firing the tea he made himself a cup and found that he had stumbled on a taste sensation! His surprising new tea was mellow and aromatic, unlike anything he had tasted before.
Once he made the tea for his neighbours they all want to know how to make it, and he was happy to share the technique; before long Wu-Liang’s tea was known throughout the province. Through Chinese Whispers it eventually came to be known as Wu-Long cha, or Black Dragon tea.