In all of the photos the old arbor version will be on the left and the plantation on the right. Right off the bat, there was a definite difference in the dry leaves. The old arbor leaves had a nice shine to them while the plantation leaves looked quite dull in comparison.
The differences in taste were very subtle at first. The plantation tea was just a shade paler and as the later infusions came, it seemed to have a lot less impact that the old arbor. I was almost reminded of the difference between true cliff and half cliff for Wuyi Mountain oolongs. The plantation tea is close but not quite there. Puerh is one of the most misunderstood types of tea and I find myself diving into it more and more lately. Hopefully as the academic interest in this category increases, we will see more agreement about what is fact and what is fiction.
Some of you might remember my tea pet who unfortunately decided that he wanted to stay in Long Beach after the World Tea Expo. I ordered a close approximation on Amazon and it finally arrived. The original was the same design but a bit nicer. This guy is chubbier and less refined but still cute. Welcome to the world of tea Ribbit II.
Jinmai Old Arbor and Plantation samples provided by White2Tea.