Newbie - Compost / Compost Tea
I've been learning online about compost tea, and would like to make a batch for my first attempt at a vegetable garden which is happening now. For years I have tried composting, but I think what I have is not actually compost - not sure.
I have a barrel-style bin into which we have put kitchen scraps, dry leaves, grass clippings, etc. for years, and what's in there now is basically black, dense, wet stuff with a few large pieces (leaves, etc.) that haven't broken down. I think it should be dryer, more like dark soil, correct?
I am wondering whether I can use a bit of this stuff to make a batch of compost tea, or if it could do any harm, assuming what I have is not true/good compost? I am also looking into local sources for true/good compost, but would love to start my tea-brewing immediately and don't know when I might be able to get my hands on someone else's compost.
BTW, now that I'm getting serious about gardening and will want to have good compost, I'm thinking about abandoning this barrel bin that hasn't worked well for me, and just pile scraps/leaves/etc. in an open corner of the garden area then stir it periodically with pitchfork. Would this be recommended, or do you suggest having it in some kind of structure/container?
Thank you in advance for any help!