Posted in Quotes

Harmless Tea

On the dining room wall of my apartment is a cross-stitched picture of two ladies drinking tea. I don’t know where it came from; it was there when I moved in. It says the following:

May all loving friends

Be happy and free

In drinking a cup

Of harmless tea.

Every morning as I eat breakfast I stare at that picture and wonder “What does that even mean???”

We all know that tea is not harmless. Tea is a symbol of rebellion–our rebellion against the British. In fact, today is the 243rd anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Our Founding Fathers considered tea so dangerous that they destroyed a shipment worth an estimated $700,000 (in today’s dollars). Actually, it was the tea tax and the tyranny it represented that was dangerous. The protest against the tea lit a spark and less than three years later, the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.

So is this phrase a Tory code? Perhaps they had a secret club–the opposite of the Sons of Liberty–and this is what they had to say in order to gain admittance.

Now I really want to watch Johnny Tremain.


What theories do you have?



2 thoughts on “Harmless Tea

  1. To drink (or spill) some harmless tea is to engage in idle, non-malicious gossip or chit-chat; that’s a pretty archaic usage, but the verse could easily be that old, and would carry the double meaning of chatting/gossiping over a cup of tea with a friend.

    Even further back, both tea and coffee were once both considered rather dangerous drugs. There was a lot of advertising done by English import companies to combat that idea, largely by underlining that they were harmless compared to alcohol. As recently as the 19th century, there’s a Sheridan Le Fanu story in which a man sees demonic visions because he drinks too much green tea; it’s treated with great seriousness as being as potent as opium in that way — the story is even called “Green Tea.”

    Hope all this is some help! 🙂


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