Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Elevenses: The Language Of Tea

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is, of course, eleven o clock and no doubt our lovely werewolf butler is just itching to break our door down and shower us with tiffin.

You find us this morning pressing on with revolutionary business-  which in this case means writing covert communications using Tsaiography (or as some uneducated folk call it ‘Charlatin’) .

That’s right, last week we showed you the Victorian art of coding with flowers, this week we are using tea (which is much more environmentally friendly and also better if you happen to have hayfever).


Tsaiography is extremely versatile and if you were ever forced to learn Latin at school, or if you grew up anywhere near East London, you will have no trouble at all as it bears a striking resemblance to the noble cockney street-slang known as ‘pig latin’

The basic rules are as follows, however there may be regional variations:

First select the word you wish to speak (or write) and, very carefully, slice away the first consonant and anything that was unfortunate enough to come in front of it ( So, for example, TEA would become EA and BUFFOON would become UFFOON ) Keep those letters in a safe place now, we’ll be needing them again in a jiffy.

Next open your larder, pantry or picnic hamper, remove your trusty tea caddy and choose any type of tea you fancy. Carefully insert the name of this tea after the next consonant in the word. If there is no other consonant, simply insert the tea at the end of the word. (So if we used ASSAM; TEA would become EAASSAM  and BUFFOON would become UFFASSAMOON)

Now, remember where you left those first few letters that you cut away earlier? Scoop them up, being careful to keep them in the correct order of course, and place them right after the name of the tea. (Sticking with our examples, we now have EAASSAMT and UFFASSAMBOON)

Now you may be stuck with an unhappy circumstance in which the new word you have created doesn’t sound quite the ticket. (EAASSAMT for example) Don’t panic. If this occurs simply act swiftly and haul another tea from your caddy to add to the end of it. (EAASAMTOOLONG, for example, is vastly preferable to EAASSAMT )

Last but not least, if in doubt make it up. No true lady or gentleman would ever ridicule or berate another for improvising around the rules where necessary and there is plenty of fun to be had by combining meaningless multisyllabic ploynons with various brands of tea without worrying too much about whether or not you are spouting anything meaningful. (Children catch on to this much more quickly than grownups – follow their lead.)

To start you off, here are some useful phrases:

Hello – Ellassamho

How are you? – Ochaihwearlgrey aredbushegreentea ouchaiyoolong?

Would you care for a cuppa? – ouladygreywld ouchaiyoolong arassamec orchaif a uppingshuica?

Quick! Put the kettle on before I pass out! – Uigreenteaqck! Utoolongpearlgrey herooibust ettassamkle on efchunmeebore I assyunnanpoolong oukeemuntsouchong!

Now, if you are feeling brave, here are some phrases to translate yourself:

– I think that cake may be laced with laudanum, better let me try it first.

– Excuse me, Sir, did you happen to see an airship parked around here?

– Is that a flame throwing parasol by any chance?


Now hopefully our tongues aren’t in too much of a twist to enjoy our elevenses which this morning is a traditional fruity Yorkshire Teacake to compliment all this tea themed nonsense and you can find the recipe for it here

And now all we need is some inspiring music to keep us going through the afternoon…

Splendid, we wish you a totally tea-tastic afternoon and until we see you again please be always,

Utterly yourself







teapot image from

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