Life is full of embarrassing moments, and some of the worst are embarrassing tea moments. There you are, enjoying this wonderful beverage, and you may have even taken time to steep it up gongfu style. Then — yikes! — that embarrassing tea moment happens.

Take care when pouring from such a pretty teapot to avoid an embarrassing and frustrating tea moment. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Take care when pouring from such a pretty teapot to avoid an embarrassing and frustrating tea moment. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

1 The inopportune laugh — You take in a big mouthful and someone says something outrageously funny. You are amused — very amused. So amused that you are left with two options: try to swallow and have tea go down the windpipe or go ahead and laugh, letting the chips fall…uh, tea fly where it may. If you manage to laugh with your mouth closed, that means the tea will be spurted out of your nose or mouth in a fashion that is rather less than dignified — or comfortable, for that matter.

2 The lingering bubble — As if that inopportune tea laugh weren’t bad enough, having a tea bubble linger from your nose tip or from the side of your mouth afterwards is even worse. Sort of like a gob of mustard or ketchup lingering somewhere on your face after a bite of hotdog or hamburger. And that bubble can show amazing resiliency, lasting even when you move your head around and continue drinking your tea. Polite people around you will ignore it, but the others will point and say things like, “Bubble nose. Bubble nose.”

3 The errant tea leaf — Those who steep gongfu style, using a gaiwan and loose leaf teas, can end up with some of those leaf pieces in the cup. From the cup, those pieces can “do a spinach” — get stuck in your front teeth and say “howdy!” to those around you whenever you smile. Very ungenteel and quite embarrassing when you catch sight of yourself in the mirror and discover them.

4 The tea saucer stick-up — If you use a teacup and saucer, you know all about suction and the saucer stick-up. All it takes is a little tea on the saucer to create that suction. Then, when you lift the teacup, the saucer comes with it. Depending on how strong that suction is, the saucer may last all the way to your lips or it may fall somewhere between your hand (or tabletop) and your lips, creating a situation filled with noise (clatter, crash), a spray of tea from the saucer, and cries from your fellow imbibers — things like “What the…?”

5 The teapot lid mishap — If you cover your teapot with a wraparound-style cozy, you may never experience this embarrassing tea moment. The cozy keeps the lid in place. Otherwise, when pouring from a teapot not in a cozy the teapot lid can end up splashing in the teacup. Your next tea party may see your guests coming attired in rain gear to avoid that spray of tea.

It seems that these embarrassing moments can be divided into two basic types: the ones that those around us are too polite to discreetly call to our attention, and those resulting from our teawares seemingly plotting against us. Sigh! We certainly don’t think any of these mishaps are sufficient to scare us away from enjoying pleasant tea times, though. Yay!

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