I have been drinking tea all of my life but only seriously within the last few years. I grew up in NYC so my tea drinking was split between cheap Chinatown restaurant tea (mostly Oolong, some Jasmine) and English style black teas like Twinning's Lady Earl Grey, Early Grey, English Breakfast ect. I was mainly a tea bag kinda girl though I did brew some English black and flavored teas in a tea ball when I got something special.
I got into roasting my own coffee three years ago after moving to Indiana....and for some reason that inspired me to start exploring different methods of brewing tea. I discovered Gong Fu style brewing by lurking on the foodie forum, E-Gullets-which has an active section on tea. I discovered Norbu Tea and Yunnan Sourcing...and the rest is history.
I started out my Gong Fu brewing experiments using vintage porcelain Chinese restaurant ware 120 ml soup bowls (for steeping) and 90 ml cups (for drinking...still use them). I used (and still use) a huge porcelain Chinese restaurant teapot as a hot water caddy. The porcelain provided a neutral backdrop to try out teas...but the soup bowls let the water cool off too much while steeping the teas..not to mention the aromas.
Eventually I decided to get some more appropriate teapots for steeping the tea in. Since there seems to be so much fake junk among Yixing teapots, I purchased instead, several different shaped and sized Jian Shui purple pottery teapots from Yunnan Sourcing. I have a 90 Dragon Egg, a 130 ml Xi Shi, and a 200ml Xi Shi.
I absolutely love these teapots and have been doing side by side tasting to compare the effect pot shape and size on the flavor of the tea. In some cases there are pronounced differences..other times not so much. The hardest part is making sure that all of the parameters are the same (water temp, tea weight, pour time ect.).
I am drinking mainly Oolongs these days....and as with my coffee, I love all the different styles and varietals. I don't have a favorite region though I could live on Imperial Da Hong Pao and Song Zhong I prefer more oxidized and roasted Oolongs...but have discovered and loved several less oxidized barely roasted teas like Diamond Grade TGY and Ali Shan High Mountain.
Most of my tea comes from Norbu these days...although I get some from Mr Trombleys. I love Norbu's tasting notes as they really help me figure out what to expect...and inspire me to try new things.
My next major project is to find a good Yixing teapot.
Sorry for the long intro... I have really enjoyed the vast amount of knowledge shared here..one of the reasons that I decided to stop lurking and join.