I've been a casual tea drinker for most of my life, but started getting more into quality teas a few months ago. Poking around on the Internet looking for reviews and recommendations quickly turned up TeaChat, and so here I am. Nice to meet you all.
Growing up I mostly drank the cheap Yamamotoyama genmaicha and hojicha that my Japanese grandma always bought. I still have a soft spot for cheap Japanese teas. Lately I've been drinking just about whatever I can get my hands on--strong European breakfast blends in the morning, greens and oolongs during the day, and pu-erh after dinner. So far my favorites are a Tenren Tung-Ting that a friend of mine brought back from a trip to China, and the Scottish breakfast blend from Upton. (I know Upton doesn't get a lot of love around here, but I have enjoyed several of the black teas I've had from there.) So far most of my Asian-style teas have been cheap tins from the Vietnamese grocery stores in my neighborhood, but I'm always interested in new stuff.
I'd say that right now the recommendations I'm most interested in are for shou pu-erhs and Yunnan blacks. I'm particularly interested in teas that do well with Western-style brewing, as I drink a lot of tea at the office and don't have time for serious gongfu. (I'm sure I may be missing out, but such is life, and I figure less-than-perfect tea is better than no tea at all.)
I'm planning to head down to the Mad Monk tea shop here in San Diego next week to check out their pu-erh offerings, and supposedly they'll be coming back from Taiwan in a few weeks with some of this year's spring oolongs, which I'm looking forward to.
Anyway, hello and nice to meet you all!
Mad Monk is having a tea sale on Saturday, some sort of mini-festival to clear out some inventory before their Taiwan trip. You should check it out. I would go, but I'm probably going to be there Friday night.