Now, as someone who is relatively new to the world of tea and teachat I can try and offer some advice from what I've learned (and I'm still learning).
I think the first important thing it's to be patient, tea is impossible to get right over night. So pick teas you think you will like and go from there, slowly try different samples (maybe buy one or two samples with every order you place for a tea you know you like?). And diversify, if you try a greener oolong one week, try a roasted one or other tea type completely the next
With the teaware, I usually try to get cups or brewing vessels every 2 or 3 orders (I usually throw in an inexpensive cup set or Gaiwan with large orders). You can get good enough Gaiwans for €10 (I guess that's $15ish?).
Ask! Use the instant messenger! If you really want to try oolong, look at the recommended oolong vendor list, ask whoever is online on the messenger, or hey, private message someone from this thread
I had no idea about puerhs, Oolongs or yixing (still don't but sure,
I try :L) but I asked for help and I was pointed in the direction of a teachat vendor who's advice and help has helped so much! I'm starting to get a grasp on Oolongs, I feel more confident in general about ordering my tea and teaware!
I know you got into tea as a healthy alternative to soft drinks and it's a great convenient, tasty drink to have! But at a closer look, it's a hobby, it's fun, it can be exciting! I spend most of my time lately just thinking about what tea to get next XD So just experiment, ask for help and have fun
+1 to all those recommending oolong as a way forward! So so tasty, you can get savoury butter like tea that satisfies those guilty cravings we all get, or spicy and chocolate flavours that remind you of Christmas and winter XD And every other flavour in between XD I would suggest white tea (silver needle specifically) because it's not terrible hard to brew (temperature is essential though) and it yields a light but nice flavour (can be sweet, grainy, vegetal) and it kick started my love for loose leaf (I've been drinking black tea bags with milk my whole life).
So yeah, hope that was some help! I'm currently drinking a 20 year old Tie Guan Yin thrown into my last order by the vendor mentioned above, and this time 6 months ago I didnt even know what TGY was, let alone it could be 20 years old!