Has "spilling the beans" become stodgy and needs a voguish replacement? I am seeing "spilling the tea" everywhere.


2 Answers 2


Tea has a slang usage also which can be used in expressions similar to “spill the beans”. The origin appears to be from AAVE. As noted in the Wiktionary entry the “tea” is the T for Truth.

In slang, "tea" is a term used to refer to gossip or inside information. It is often used in the phrase "spill the tea" or "serve the tea," which means to share juicy or exclusive details about a situation or person.

(From: later.com)

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    I dunno but I don't buy that tea is AAVE. Black Americans are not espicially known for drinking tea...and those links are all suppositional...
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 27 at 14:36
  • In "spill the beans" the "beans" can be any secret, not just gossip. So even if this is true "spill the tea" does not mean the same as 'spill the beans". Commented Apr 27 at 14:52
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    @Lambie - Originally from "T", standing for truth, which evolved into tea. Possibly as a blend with spill the beans. (Wiktionary)
    – Gio
    Commented Apr 27 at 15:36
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    No, it's from drag culture. Commented Apr 27 at 23:53

The slang term T., tee or tea is from Drag terminology:

Tea/T Definition: Slang for the word truth or gossip.

Used in a sentence: "Girl, I'm about to spill the tea on everything that happened last night."

from Marie Claire magazine glossary

spilling the tea[11] sharing gossip
drag terminoloy

T (Tee / Tea) Used in many forms, T is short for truth, and sometimes spelled as Tee or Tea.

Also used as: All Tea, All Shade - A phrase used to infer that the your remarks should be taken as condescending. (Coined by Coco Montrese, Season 5). Also used as: No Tea, No Shade - A phrase similar to "No disrespect.” drag queen terminology by Brandon Michaels

  • No tea, no shade: “No disrespect.”

Glitterbomb_Drag Dictionary_UK

Terms such as fish, shade, and tea were all created by drag queens and they have now found their way into being commonly used terms in pop-culture. Historically, drag queens have been marginalized therefore, it is interesting how their slang terms have become such a hit.


Style switching is extremely common in drag culture. In Stephen Mann’s Drag Queens’ Use of Language and the Performance of Blurred Gender and Racial Identities, he explores the linguistic choices of a drag queen during one of her shows. He focused on the style switching used within the show and how it relates to how drag artists wish themselves to be perceived. The drag queen used three different styles of language, White Women’s English (WWE), Gay Man’s English (GME), and African-American Vernacular Language (AAVE). Mann explains that drag queens use different style of language to negotiate aspects of their racial identity as well as gender identity. With the use of style-mixing, drag queens can use their linguistic choices to aide their blurring of gender and racial lines. For example, the term “honey” is often used by drag artists and can help aide a ‘southern belle’ character and amplify the illusion of being a southern woman.

Speaking like a queen [Bolding mine//Live and Learn! (I'm saying to myself). revealing a secret as in spilling the beans is not related to spilling the tea which means to share gossip in drag terminology]

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