Even though I don’t have all the facts, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s probably not much going on in the way of dueling nowadays. Which is a good thing. If you’re like me, what little you know about dueling comes mostly from American history class (Hamilton v. Burr) or that variety that takes place in Western movies and TV shows at about the time the clock strikes high noon.
But there is actually one type of dueling going on nowadays and, as the title of this article strongly indicates, it has something to do with tea. Tea dueling is a concept I wasn’t aware of until recently, but, given that is has its own association and a Web site to go with it, it stands to reason that it must be reasonably well established by now.
Tea dueling appears to have gotten its start in the steampunk movement and, according to the Web site for The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists, the group “is the originator of this fine sport [and] is the Official World Governing Body.” More about the American wing of the organization – The American Tea Duelling Society – here.
What a tea duel actually consists of is laid out in the Third Edition (1899) of the Articles of the Honourable Association of Tea Duellists (don’t take any of this too seriously, by the way), which is a rather detailed document, now that you mention it. So, what exactly is a tea duel? Well, you can consult the aforementioned document for all of the nitty gritty details, but what it boils (pun sort of intended) down to is that two contestants face off with a cup of hot tea and a biscuit. After dunking the biscuit in the tea for five seconds the object (if I read those detailed rules right) seems to be to consume the biscuit while causing the least amount of mess.
As noted, there’s quite a bit more to it than that, including the stipulation that tea is the only suitable beverage of choice. For even more on the finer points of this sort of thing be sure to nose around at the Web site, where there’s information on the different types of tea duels, as well as a document called Guidance on the Organisation of Official Tea Duelling Competitions.
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