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Feb 11

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day

Milk Tea
Afternoon Tea/Milk Tea
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Milk Tea
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"No weeping for shed milk.” ~ English Proverbs, James Howell, 1659

Milk tea is a beverage combination in many cultures with specialties such as Taiwanese Bubble Tea, Indian Masala Chai, and Japanese Royal Milk Tea. In Britain, when hot tea and cold milk are drunk together, the drink is known as "tea with milk," rather than "milk tea." "Spilling the tea" (with or without milk) is a modern expression meaning to reveal the details of juicy gossip though tea-drinking and tittle-tattle have longtime historical associations.

Milk Tea refers to diverse beverages from many cultures, though in Britain, it is properly referred to as "tea and milk." 

The expression "spill the tea" (with or without milk) is the newest expression linking tea drinking to the exchanging of juicy gossip, a teatime ritual of long-standing.

Almost from the time tea was popularized in England in the 1600s by Charles II's Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza, tea drinking was made synonymous with female tittle-tattle.  "Giving a tea" started out as an exclusively female ritual, giving rise to the association (although men drank as much tea and gossiped as avidly as women).

Expressions for tea from Francis Grose's, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue Tea, of 1785, has numerous entries in Grose's dictionary. Among other things, it is called "prattle broth," "chatter broth," "scandal broth," and "cat lap."

A year after Grose's dictionary was published, a variation of the term "scandal broth" appeared inRobert Burns' poem, The Twa Dogs: A Tale, in a stanza parodying society ladies who pretend to be as gracious as sisters but think spiteful thoughts as they "sip the scandal-potion pretty."

A century later, bibliophile John Camden Hotten's posthumous 1874 The Slang Dictionary: Etymological, Historical, and Anecdotal described a "tabby party" as "a party consisting entirely of women, a tea and tattle gathering."

This tartan, is one of a range of designs for Sazaby League Company's Afternoon Tea brand, this design evokes the sweet scent and mild colouring of "tea with milk".

For more "tea" on how gossip and tea drinking became associated, click the "tea with milk."