Unfortunately, the compressed mid-aged teas (cca 2000) from Origintea are not entirely to my taste - too dry, strange and generally lacking positive sides. However, the loose leaf teas: 99 and 80s are a better thing, which is why I would like to give them a couple of lines below.
I used 3.5g, steeped in 120ml gaiwans, for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes.
The 99 Yiwu is to the left, the 80s wild arbor is to the right. Now, a couple of shots of
80s Wild Arbor
I believe that the largest difference in looks is obvious even from the photos - while the 99 is dark brown-grey, the 80s is rather dark deep brown-orange.
The aroma of wet leaves is quite different too. The 99 smells aged, of forest floor and wet wood - after a couple of steepings, the aroma of some sort of fruit appears. The 80s smells also aged, but of walnuts...and walnuts. It is really nutty. The strange thing is, that from 1st steeping since, the wet leaves smelled almost like rancid walnuts - not only appealing.
The liquor, 99 to the left:
The 80s is redder and a tiny little bit darker (it is rather obvious at the photo, but by eye, it was not as clear). The aroma of the 80s' liquor is a lot better, warmer, with interesting spice. The 99 does not smell much, some wood, with a bit of fish.
And this is the tiny chap, the small grey spot above the 80s' cup:
Now, to the taste&the rest...
- 99: Tastes a lot of forest floor (nicely), with a hint of fruit, but a sort of fishiness apppears after a while. It is sweet and thick; good, but nothing extra. Activity in mouth and qi are both light, but there. Long-term aftertaste is decent (it is there, that's a good thing!). This steeping feels simple, but good.
- 80s: It is clearly fuller, stronger and more intensive in taste than the 99. The forest floor is substituted by aged nuttines (though probably not as intensive as in the aroma, relatively speaking). I think that for those who dislike even a hint of wetness in tea, this tea will be a lot more suitable. The only problem is, however, also a bit of fishiness present here. It is not overpowering, but clear enought to be a slight nuisance.
The activity in mouth is nicely strong and intensive. Qi is, as in the 99, light, but different. The long-term aftertaste is good. Overall, this steeping is also simple and good, but quite different from the 99.
- 99: The fishiness is gone! Good huigan is another nice surprise. It is still by no means a superb tea, but the forest floor tastes good and clean, light astringency is not an issue, overall a pleasing steeping.
- 80s: Still stronger, fuller, more harmonic and nuttier, also with the fishiness gone. I think this one will appeal to others more than the 99, but I tend to like a bit of forest floor tea sometimes; I do not care for the taste of aged nuttines too much.
Sort of the same as the 2nd, both teas are stable.
The wet leaves keep the same color pattern (80s more orange, 99 more grey) as the dry leaves.
The leaves of the 80s seemed a bit healthier to me (and there is more of them; the 99 contains a lot of leaf stalks), however, they break more easily when rubbed.
Both teas are decent loose leafs - which means that they definitely are not in the same league as cakes - loose leaf teas can give one the basic idea of what aged tea is like, but it is still worth remembering that cakes tend to do a lot better. All these vendor comments one sometimes sees, how their aged loose leaf is magnificent and epic aged tea, tend to be simply uninformed blabbering.
Where loose leaf teas outperform cakes is, in general, their low price. Indeed, with the $10 per 50g of the 99 and $20 per 50g of the 80s, one finds it harsh to fault these two teas for their lack of grandeur - they are cheap and for the money, they both perform well.
At this price point, I'd still rather take some of the cheap 90s cakes from thechineseteashop, but they don't seem to be an overly reliable place, also their cakes could be a bit wet to someone...