Need Reel to Reel Tape Primer Sources

Where can I learn about reel to reel tapes so I can purchase intelligently blank reel to reel tapes? I've read bits and pieces about tape age, binders, sizes, thickness, Maxcell vs. Ampex vs. Scotch vs Realistic?, Regular tape vs. Chrome-magnetic, metal tape holders vs. plastic?, etc..., but no coherent explaination in one or two places that makes sense. Can anyone point a newbie in the right direction for information and grounding in this new undertaking? Or, share a few good pointers? I just bought a TEAC A 5500. Thanks.
What is important about tape performance is making sure that the tape head bias during record matches the tape you are using. To set this up usually requires a bit of test equipment.

Modern tape absorbs moisture over time which causes them to shed their oxides. You can use a low temperature oven on low for 45 minutes to an hour (a car on a hot day works well also) to force the moisture out of the tape and it will then work for months or years before you have to do it again. I store tape in a plastic bag with a bag of silica-gel to reduce moisture absorption by the tape.
I could use a primer myself, hard to keep it all straight as I get into tape. I'm going to have to learn to set bias (the person I would take decks to is backed up in work by I would say several years, the last time I was in his shop there was no more floor space even in the lobby!).

I have a tape collection that I store in a room seperate from my system (it gets into the 90's sometimes in the summer and I read that tape should be stored in a dry temperature stable enviornment?).
Andy_p, heat is not the enemy, humidity is. 90s is fine for tape if the humidity is low- they will be less sticky.
that's good news about the temperature vs humidity

3 years ago i looked for a place to get my Reel to Reel questions answered, and there was not a place like that.

now there is a place where there is both very good information and lots of real knowledgable people to answer questions;

The Tape Project Forum

the best place to start on that forum is the FAQ here;

beginners guide to tape basics

then there is a separate forum on raw tape here;

raw tape forum

OTOH Atmasphere is also a great resource too....
I've been browsing on that forum but thanks for pointing me to the tape basics thread. I visited an audio repair shop today to pay a friendly visit, the owner went over a little of what is invloved in setting bias and said I could watch him do one of my decks when I was ready (he said I needed a calibration tape, a scope, an oscillator and an ac voltage meter if I wanted to do it myself). I want to make some dubs of some of the more valuable tapes I have so I can listen to them without fear of the tape breaking or other mishaps.

There was an ad on craigslist locally for an A/V company having a garage sale, one of the items they listed was a tascam br-20, I figured out the name of the company and gave them a call before the sale and it turns out they had a pair, but they wanted $1000 each, that's crazy talk. I decided to go the second day of the sale (today), the decks were very clean and the heads looked spotless with basically no wear at all. I told him I would give him $200 each and was suprised to walk out of there with the pair for $450. Listening to an early rca perez prado 2 track, sounds good. Let the sickness begin!
You will need an instruction manual for that deck in order to set bias and EQ. This is for record, no problem on playback.
I finally took the time to read the "beginners guide to tape basics" on the tape project website (as noted by Mikelavigne, thanks!). I am glad that I have been careful to not play a collection of vintage tapes I acquired and will go over each of my decks carefully inspecting the tape path components. I would highly recommend anyone interested in preserving and mainting their decks and tapes to read that thread, it is a great reference
There's a lot out there, here's just a couple for example.
I don't think the A5500 will handle the high bias tapes like 996 or Emtec 900.

There is plenty of NOS scotch 206 and 207, as well as maxell UDxl on ebay to source from.