Tea as a Weapon

No weapons here. (ETS image)
No weapons here. (ETS image)

I can’t really presume to speak for the good people who bring you this blog, but in this instance I’m going to make an assumption. I’m going to assume that they, like yours truly, do not condone the use of their fine teas as a weapon. But if the truth be told, from time to time you do run across reports of tea used in such a manner.

Sometimes, I’m sad to say, said stories recount how tea was used as an offensive weapon. On the other hand and perhaps more in the category of good news, are those instances in which a cup of hot tea is used to repel some sort of evildoer. One of the most recent such incidents that made it into the press took place in the parking lot of a convenience store in Pennsylvania. In this case the potential victim of a robbery held off the bad guy with a well-aimed cup of hot tea to the face.

Over the course of the years, in the not quite so real world, we find that tea has been used a weapon in the annals of mystery fiction. Although to say that tea itself is the weapon might not be completely accurate, given that in many of these stories it’s actually the delivery vehicle for a variety of poisons. Tea used in this manner turns up in a number of books by the famed mystery writer Agatha Christie and surely in works by numerous other authors that I’m not aware of.

The dark side of this sort of thing is that tea is occasionally used as such a delivery vehicle for poisons in the not so fictional world. One of the more notable instances of this was the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian spy who, in 2006, was apparently done in by a radioactive substance introduced into his tea. For a more mundane but just as unsettling example of this sort of thing, refer to this article about a recent case of poisoning by tea that had a better outcome.

Finally, it’s not really an example of tea used as a weapon, but here’s an article about how the damages allegedly caused by a cup of hot tea led to a lawsuit of nearly a million dollars brought against Southwest Airlines.

[Editor’s note: No we do not condone the use of tea as a weapon. Life is tricky enough.]

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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