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According to Wiktionary, spill the tea (idiomatic, informal) means:

To disclose information, especially of a sensitive nature.

Apparently, the expression appears to be a recent one.

2012, Demetria L. Lucas, "Should I Worry That He Earns Less Money?", CARE, Issue #18, October 2012, page 18:

  • They are up in your business because you invited them in by spilling the tea on what you and your man earn.

And recently on YouTube, I read this comment

enter image description here

Can anyone tell me where it comes from? Is it British or American in origin?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Janus Bahs Jacquet, choster, NVZ, Drew, Nigel J Jan 26 '18 at 2:25

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • So is this actually a question? Because it seems the title asks the question and the question body answers it. – psosuna Jan 25 '18 at 19:47
  • Is there a question buried somewhere in this non-sentence? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 25 '18 at 19:50
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    In UK there is the much older expression "spill the beans". – Weather Vane Jan 25 '18 at 20:07
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    It's unlikely to be American since we haven't spilled the tea since 1773. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '18 at 20:07
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    @NVZ - in what sense is this question unclear? Did you read it before close voting? – user067531 Jan 26 '18 at 5:55
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The expression appears to have originated in American black drag culture:

It appears that T, also spelled tea, had a double-edged meaning in black drag culture. It could refer to a hidden truth, as Chablis uses it, and it could also refer to someone else's hidden truth—that is, gossip:

  • Straight life must be so boring. Because everyone conforms. These gay kids carry on. ... They give you dance and great tea [gossip]. — "Nate" quoted in One of the Children: An Ethnography of Identity and Gay Black Men, William G. Hawkeswood, 1991

As drag culture—and particularly black drag culture—gained prominence, so too did this dual meaning use of tea. It's spread far beyond black drag culture at this point. The phrase "spill the tea," used as an encouragement to gossip, has been used in everything from Harlequin romance novels to "RuPaul's Drag Race"; "no tea, no shade" has been featured in explainers on black gay slang; comedian Larry Wilmore used "weak tea" regularly on his 2015-16 Comedy Central show in response to people who weren't telling the absolute truth.

(Merriam-Webster)

The expression is American:

Spilling tea (American Slang)

On the day that I was working on this video, I searched ‘spilling tea’ online and found that it was in the headlines. “Rob Kardashian’s Instagram Is Disabled, But His Tea Spilling Continues On Twitter”. Spilling tea means to gossip about someone. So here, Kardashian was gossiping about his ex-fiance, which included posting naked pictures of her. Not good.

(Rachel's English.com)

  • "weak tea" is not necessarily a related expression. It's used in the UK to mean a poor performance, particularly at explaining ones failures. "weak sauce" means the same, I think. – Rupert Morrish Jan 25 '18 at 21:18
  • The question already had 2 VTC, I think, before you edited the question. A good edit but it was really radical, the original question made very little sense and did not ask about the idiom's origin but its meaning, and then the OP seemed to have supplied it. Very weird. No wonder then some users voted to close it. So, I'd go easy on the warpath if I were you. You should have voted to keep it open in the review queue, if you hadn't already. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 '18 at 10:06
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    what's weird? The fact that I supplied the answer? Or that I tried to save a potentially good question? The original question was very weird. It was nonsensical. Please try and be less sensitive. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 '18 at 10:09
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The word 'tea' in this context is slang for gossip or news. For example:

"Girl, did you know Renee is having ANOTHER baby?"

Urban Dictionary dates this entry: May 12, 2008

The American version I believe is spill the beans. Spill the tea is most likely British (not that only British people drink tea.)

However, in another UD entry, dated April 09, 2012, user Beava Diva says

To share gossip. A term started within the gay community of San Antonio, Texas and spread originally throughout the South Central region of the United States. Now used throughout the gay communities in United States and possibly other countries. It comes from the idea of having old Southern tea parties in the South to gossip behind people's back.

Presumably, the tea drunk in the Southern Sates must be sweet tea also known as iced-tea, and not the typical British cup of hot tea.

enter image description here

  • The question has been edited: Can anyone tell me where it comes from. It is British or American? – Weather Vane Jan 25 '18 at 20:04
  • The American version I believe is spill the beans. Spill the tea is most likely British (not that only British people drink tea. 🙄) – Junior Shepherd Jan 25 '18 at 20:07
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    I never heard "spill the tea" before. We (UK) "spill the beans". – Weather Vane Jan 25 '18 at 20:09
  • @Junior Shepherd These Google Ngrams seem to confirm my suspicions that 'spill the beans' is the idiomatic choice on both sides of the Atlantic. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '18 at 22:30
  • I can't post an answer because the question is put on hold, but if you dislike my extensive edit, feel free to roll it back. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 '18 at 13:36

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