Are there any important dos and do-nots that I should keep in mind?
A couple of things off the top of my head:
1) Cast a wide net. Try every blend, flavour and brand you can get your hands on. Usually, tea shops will be happy to include a sample with your purchase. I've gotten some excellent teas I would never have tried otherwise that way.
2) Flavoured black teas and rooibos make for good "entry-level" teas. They are also usually cheaper than, say, fine darjeeling or shaded Japanese green tea.
3) Pay attention to the water temperature. Green teas are usually brewed with cooler water than black ones, for good reason. When in doubt, consult the instructions, but note that they are mostly guidelines. Which brings me to...
4) Steeping. Let the tea steep until it tastes right to you
. Green and white teas are usually steeped for a shorter duration than black ones.
5) A useful rule of thumb regarding milk: The stronger the tea, the more likely it is to be improved by the addition of milk. Do not use condensed milk. I am not touching the "milk in first" vs "tea in first" debate with a ten foot long pole.
6) Sweetening is controversial. Some teas are enhanced by sugar or honey, some are ruined by it. It's usually a good idea to try it without sugar for your first brew and then go from there.
7) Some teas, especially green and white ones can be brewed twice or more before changing the leaves. Later brews can bring out hidden flavours and are more delicate. Generally, do not try this with black teas.
edited 11th Nov '12 12:15:29 PM by Farnion