I posted some questions about how to the age of puerh tea from the leaves on TeaChat and Paul from +White2Tea was quick to respond with information and an generous offer of samples to illustrate the differences. I’ve got a whole batch of goodies to write about from him but in this case I did a comparative tasting of 2013 Jingmai raw puerh. One is an old arbor tea (many vendors will call this “ancient”) and one is from a plantation.
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.