Friday, January 11, 2013

En garde! The art of tea dueling

I forget what lead to my brief flirtation with steampunk — I think I backed into the subculture while reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy — but a friend recently asked me if I was aware of tea dueling. It's a steampunk thing, and it beats pistols at fifty paces.

In a tea duel, the duelists sit across a table from each other. Each is armed with a cup of hot tea and a tea biscuit (butter cookie, what have you). Refereed by the Tiffin Master (or Mistress), the duelists dunk their biscuit into the tea for a count of five seconds, at which point the biscuit is removed. The duelist who waits the longest before eating the biscuit — without having lost any soggy crumbs or saturated pieces to the tea — wins. Victory is described as a "nom," and it's harder than it might seem.

Nerdy, but civilized. Complete rules can be found here in the "Articles of the Honourable Association of Tea Duellists" (sic).

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