What’s the difference of spilling the beans and spilling the tea?
If you spend enough time on the internet, you’ll find that people use the phrase ‘to spill the tea’ a lot, especially when there is a scandal or a controversy. How does it differ from ‘to spill the beans?’
Quick answer: both can mean the same thing, which is exposing or leaking private information that is not supposed to be made public. However, I tend to use ‘spill the beans’ for something that has an amount of truth in it, while I use ‘spill the tea’ for gossips.
‘Spill the beans’ is believed to have come from an ancient Greek voting system, wherein those in favour of something would put white beans into the jar. Those who opposed would put black ones. It’s not clear what type of beans were used.
If someone knocked over the jar and the beans were spilled, the results were out and were known to public before the voting ended. Thus came the phrase ‘spill the beans’.
We have a much clearer record of ‘spill the tea’. It first appeared in a 1994 non-fiction novel, John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In it, he interviewed Lady Chablis.
The lady said she avoided being in a close acquaintance with certain men because once the found out the T about her, they tended to become more violent. ‘T’ here stands for truth.
In her autobiography which was published in 1997, Lady Chablis once again used the letter ‘T’ to refer to the truth. Later on, this ‘T’ was officially spelled ‘tea.’
Unlike ‘spill the beans’ that carries some truth in it, the phrase ‘spill the tea’ can mean the truth or gossips. It can also mean our truth/gossips and the truth/gossips about us. So be careful when ‘spilling the hot tea,’ lest we get burnt.
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