The process for making oolong involves more steps than other types of tea. The most important steps for determining the fundamental taste and base of an oolong during its processing are in the oxidation.
Oolong oxidation will produce 4 major categories of flavor/aroma. From light to heavy oxidation, those categories are:
1) 菜香 (Cai Xiang) - Vegetal, such as Baozhong.
2) 花香 (Hua Xiang) - Floral, such as Alishan high mountain tea. This category is often further subdivided by the types of floral, such as 蘭貴 (Lan Gui - orchid) or 桂花 (Gui Hua - osmanthus).
3) 果香 (Guo Xiang) - Fruity, such as Dong Ding or Muzha Tieguanyin. A traditional medium-high oxidized, medium-high roast Muzha TGY may even have notes of ripe fruit, 熟果香 (shu guo xiang).
4) 蜜香 (Mi Xiang) - Honey, such as Oriental Beauty. A highly-oxidized oolong’s flavor is also said to sometimes resemble 焦糖 (Jiao Tang) or caramel. I think that tea that has been over-roasted and allowed to rest a while will also infuse tea that is caramel in color and has sweet notes.
Several different leaf varietals are used in the production of Taiwan oolongs, the most prevalent of which is the Qingxin varietal (青心). Nearly all high mountain oolong is produced with Qingxin leaf. Dong Ding oolong is also produced with Qingxin, and often with Ruanzhi (軟支, soft stem).
I greatly prefer medium-oxidation teas to light or high-oxidation ones. General taste profiles are helpful to me (in addition to other info/experience) when identifying different types of high mountain oolong. Lishan tends to have a higher-oxidation level than Alishan, for example, and also tends to taste more fruity than floral. Shanlinxi usually has an oxidation level between Lishan and Alishan and has a uniquely fruity and floral profile.