Rist from Belgium just introduced himself. Neighbouring his country there is another well-known beer nation: Germany. That's where I live - and I wish we had some tea fields instead of breweries.
About myself: My name is Gero, in a few weeks I'll turn 43 and this summer will mark my 30th tea anniversary. As a teenager I started cultivating a fascination (obsession?) with all things Japanese, which led me to tea (as you might guess, else I'd be rambling on a saké-forum). At university I did Japanese Studies, which took me to spend a year in Tokyo, where I made friends with a young Taiwanese couple. They were very much into tea, so we spent many nights doing gongfucha - and I fell in love with Oolong teas.
Some years later I returned to Japan for a 3 month stay in Shizuoka: the prefecture producing about 50% of Japan's tea output. That was heaven to me - almost everyone I met had some connections to the tea business.
Ten years ago I started working for a tea trading company - my dream come true. My field of working is not in purchases but rather in distribution (supporting and training our franchisees - the retailers). Our tea tasters know me for being an extreme tea nerd, so I get to try all the interesting samples they get. But in March and April I don't have to sample Darjeeling First Flush for several weeks like they do - just get to try the best ones.
30 years of relentless tea experimentations - where did it get me? To the point where I understand that even 300 years will not be sufficient to learn all there is to know about tea. About one year ago I had my first cup of sheng puer - and fell instantly in love. So I guess you'll meet me on TeaChat's puer forum most often.
Enough for now - you'll already have figured out that language limitations will not keep me from writing lenghty entries.
Wishing you all a great new year with many fascinating tea sessions!