“Spill the Tea” – Meaning & Origin (With Examples)

The phrase “spill the tea” is one that is well known by some, but completely unheard of by others. Because of this, the overall meaning of the phrase is slightly unknown or unexplained. Therefore, in this article, we will be highlighting both the meaning and the origin of this phrase.

What Does “Spill The Tea” Mean?

“Spill the tea” is considered an idiomatic or informal phrase that is used to tell a person to share any gossip that they possess or are aware of. Essentially, this is a request for someone to disclose information – especially of a sensitive or secretive nature.

spill the tea meaning origin

As we can see when looking at Urban Dictionary, “spill the tea” is defined as when one tells an especially juicy bit of gossip. The same can be said in The Free Dictionary, where “spill the tea” is defined as to share or reveal gossip, with “tea” being a slang term for gossip.

Therefore, when we say that someone is “spilling the tea”, we are expressing that they are currently making us aware of or sharing the gossip that they know. We may also use the phrase “spilling the tea” when we are informing someone else, that an individual is spreading gossip about them, or telling others about their personal business or secrets.

An example of this would be:

  • Robin: Hey Christy, are you aware that Brittany is spilling the tea about your secret boyfriend to everyone at school?
  • Christy: Oh my goodness, no! Thank you for informing me or I would not have known.
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Origin Of “Spill The Tea”

There is some debate as to where the phrase “spill the tea” originated from. Some believe that it is the Americanized version of the old British saying “spill the beans”, however, the expression appears to have originated in African American drag culture, in the 1990s.  

The phrase comes from “spill the T”, where “T” stands for truth. This was introduced by the famous African American drag queen, Lady Chablis, in the 1994 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Lady Chablis, who is openly transgender, stated “the fact that I am a beautiful woman is clear, but the fact that I have a penis, well that’s my T, that’s my truth”. This gave way to the use of this idiomatic phrase; however, it did not reach mainstream culture until approximately 2018 – largely due to Ru Paul’s Drag Race and drag culture as a whole.  

The present-day phrase is a little cleverer than merely saying “spill the T”, as “tea” is something that can be spilled, but also sounds the same. The phrase is also commonly heard as “spilling tea”, “weak tea”, or “give us the tea”, which all carry very consistent meanings.  

Although it’s not believed to be the exact origin of this particular phrase, the phrase “spill the beans” is consistent in meaning. This is a classic English expression meaning “share the information” or “dish the dirt” – both of which are requests for secretive intel. It’s thought that this phrase originated in Ancient Greece. At that time, citizens would vote by placing either white or a darker colored bean into a jar. Therefore, “spilling the beans” was when an official would turn over the jar and count the beans to view the results of the public vote. 

What Does “Spill The Tea” Mean In Chat?

When someone says “spill the tea” in chat or through text, it carries a consistent meaning as if it was said in person. Someone is requesting that we share any gossip that we are aware of, that they are not. This is considered a way to start a secretive conversation.

We can think of someone saying or requesting that we “spill the tea” as an open invitation to confide in them or fill them in on anything information that they have not previously been pertinent to or informed of. This should not necessarily be thought of as invasive or rude, as generally speaking, this would be a conversation had between two confidants, close friends, or relatives.

How To Use “Spill The Tea” In A Sentence

We will now go over the following examples that accurately highlight how we can use the phrase “spill the tea” in a sentence. Generally speaking, we will see the phrase “spill the tea” used conversationally, so the following examples will reflect that.

Examples:

  • Alice: Does anyone know why everyone is being so secretive?
  • Cameron: Alright, I’ll spill the tea! There’s a huge party, but no one is inviting Tom.
  • Sarah: I don’t think that I should be telling anyone that information.
  • Jennifer: Oh come on, Sarah! Just spill the tea already!
  • Beth: Who shouldn’t I tell this secret to?
  • David: Don’t tell Rachel – she is horrible for constantly spilling the tea unnecessarily!
  • Cassie: How did you find out that I was dating him?
  • Tina: Michael spilled the tea about your secret relationship this afternoon.
  • Sydney: Why are you so upset with your Mom today?
  • Trisha: I told my Mom a secret, but then she went and spilled the tea to my Dad.
  • Brittany: Am I allowed to tell anyone yet?
  • Hannah: Don’t spill the tea – as I want the gender of my baby to be a secret!
  • Mark: Why are you keeping secrets from me all of the sudden?
  • Lisa: Okay, I’ll spill the tea, but you have to promise that it stays between the two of us!

Spill The Tea – Synonyms

Lastly, we will go over some applicable synonyms to use in place of the phrase “spill the tea”. These synonyms all carry similar meanings to our original statement and should not cause any confusion as to what we are meaning to say to an audience or recipient.

Synonyms:

  • Spill the beans
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Share some gossip
  • Reveal a secret
  • To tittle-tattle
  • Dish the dirt