My name is Scott and I am a newbie to Loose Leaf tea.
I first started drinking tea (like many others) when I was little. Mom would make us plain old Lipton Sweet Iced Tea and that was pretty much it for most of my life. As my own personal tastes evolved, I moved on to herbal teas for their benefit to my singer's throat (Throat Coat and Twinings Lemon Ginger Tea to be specific). From there, I expanded my horizons mostly with bagged teas (Celestial Seasonings' Bengal Spice, Earl/Lady Grey, English/Irish Breakfast, and Darjeeling (all from Twinings), and PG Tips as well) due to my purchase of a Zojirushi water boiler that I keep at my desk at work.
I was first introduced to Loose Tea by my Parents, actually. On a recent trip to Disney World they visited Spice and Tea Exchange in Downtown Disney and returned with two different teas for me to try: Rainforest Mate and Mango Green Tea. Having never brewed any loose leaf teas before, I was *completely* clueless as to what to do with them. On a whim, I visited my local Teavana store. I got myself a little Tea Ball (after getting their traditional sales pitch from largest dollar amount items to smallest dollar amount items) along with some Tea Tins to store the tea (I also ended up getting some of their tea as well - complete with tins to store them in, no less).
My experience with the local Teavana wasn't as high pressure as some people have been exposed to (the gentleman was actually very helpful with the Tea that wasn't purchased from them - he gave me brewing instructions for the two teas that my parents had bought me), but I still spent way more than I had intended to, which I wasn't completely happy about. After doing some Google-fu, I came across both Adagio and your forums, and found the post from a former employee. I vowed never to set foot in one of their stores again - I strongly dislike high pressure sales. But I digress......
Both the teas that I purchased (ToLife and Apple Lemon Pomegranate) and the two teas that my parents purchased for me were awesome. I found them very palatable without sweetener (but still required some sweetener to take the "edge" off), something that I had never experienced before with bagged teas - I always had to put in a ton of honey to be able to drink them. I'm hoping to eventually be able to drink them without any honey at all, but it'll take some time to get there. (I will admit that I'm still trying to get used to the Green Tea - I don't think it takes honey very well.)
I will be expanding my collection of loose leaf teas with my recent purchase from Adagio. I did go a little overboard (six samples!) but I cannot wait to try them!
I decided to join the forums because I am a newbie to loose leaf, and for the novice tea drinker, the experience can definitely be quite overwhelming. Plus, after reading some of the horrible experiences at Teavana, I want to make sure that I start my education into the World of Tea on the right foot with accurate information and not hype.
From what I've seen so far by lurking, there is a wealth of knowledge here, and everyone seems to be really nice and helpful.
Sorry for the long post, but just wanted to introduce myself and share my story.