Brush Sheils and Shay Healy get slurping in an attempt to identify Ireland's most expensive tea.

A rare tea called First Flush Darjeeling will be on sale tomorrow in Bewley’s Café, Dublin.  Only produced at certain times of the year, it costs £16 per pound.

Tea expert and professional tea taster Owen Dawson is chief tea buyer in Bewley’s.  Musician Brush Shiels being a teetotaller, he drinks a lot of tea. 

How can an ordinary tea drinker, who is not an expert, tell the difference between one tea and another?  Smell is key, advises Owen Dawson. 

The ideal scenario for most of us is to relax with a nice cup of tea.  The intense schedule for a trainee tea taster could not be further removed from this, as they taste at least 500 – 600 teas per day, non-stop.  

What you’re trying to do is memorise taste...tea tasting is essentially a matter of comparison, compared with wine, which tends to be elimination...

Brush and Shay taste the teas to try to figure out which one is the most expensive.  Every care has been taken by Owen to ensure the best possible taste experience for our two amateur tasters – weighing the tea, pouring boiling water on it and letting it stand for six minutes.  A brass spittoon is used as the tea is not consumed, but spat out once it has been tasted.

Dawson trained in London for two years, but as he explains, 

I think you’re learning all the time, it’s an extraordinary thing.  The tea tree keeps changing, and you’ve got to keep changing.

Our two amateur tea tasters attempt to imitate Owen’s tea tasting technique, but will they be able to distinguish the Beaujolais Nouveau of teas? 

This episode of ‘Evening Extra’ was broadcast on 13 April 1988.  The presenter is Shay Healy. 

'Evening Extra' was a nightly magazine programme which ran from Monday to Friday at 7 pm dealing with current issues and people in the news.  The first episode was aired on Monday 13 October 1986 and it ran for 278 shows over 2 years until the final show on 29 April 1988. The programme had numerous presenters and reporters including Siobhan Cleary, Richard Crowley, Bibi Baskin, Aonghus McAnally and Shay Healy.