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  • Writer's pictureKL Forslund

SP: Tea Dueling

Kensington eyed his nemesis across the table as he dunked his biscuit into the cup of tea before him. The count began as he recalled the insult that began this duel. As an officer and a gentleman, a jibe about the Republic of Texas could not be left unanswered. Now, the stakes couldn’t be any higher with personal and national honor involved. The judge finished the count and Kensington and his opponent, Bud Von Slatherus the Third raised their biccies into the air. Kensington’s hand held gunman steady, but already, the biscuit showed signs of breaking as a slight bend developed.

Tea, the Duelists First Choice

The sport of tea dueling represents the most civilized means of solving disputes, real or imagined. The basic premise is synchronized dunking a cookie into tea, removing it, and whichever breaks first loses (or eats last). Details vary among groups so be mindful should you be drawn into a duel.

From Whence It Came

It appears the first publicised tea duel occurred in February 2012 at Anachrocon. Other indications are that a Geof Banyard and John Naylor are the responsible parties for the rules I’ve seen versions of on many sites with the same language. The official site for The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists is at

The Biscuit

In England, they call it a biscuit, but it looks like a cookie to Americans. Biscuits are different in our terms. In the US, the standard is Chessman, made by Pepperidge Farms. The intent is to be strong enough to exit the tea and make it to a mouth, but not stand too long before it breaks.

The Duel

The original rules include a lot of fancy language, and I think we can shorten that up a bit, at the expense of flavor. Here’s the basics in American terms:

  • The two duelists receive a Chessman cookie and cup of tea.

  • They hold the cookie between thumb and finger, no more than one half inch from the edge.

  • At the command of the judge (called a Tiffin Master), they dunk the cookie halfway for a count of five.

  • The cookie is then removed from the tea and held up.

  • If it breaks, you lose. Where it breaks is called different things, but it’s all losing.

  • If you think it’s going to break, stuff it in your mouth. The last to stuff it into their mouth is the winner.

  • If both parties are sitting there holding cookies with no problem, the judge may ask the contestants to stand, dosey doe, or some other movement to add risk and excitement.

Steady Hand Strategy

Once you raise the cookie out of the tea, it seeps downward into the part your holding. This further erodes the structural integrity. Good technique to raise and upend the cookie is critical. Once you’ve got it there, a shakey hand may cause it to tumble down, costing you the match. Since you must be the last to eat an unbroken cookie, keeping a steady hand while waiting for the other side to tumble or nom is the key to victory.

Kensington glared at his opponent, a key component of his strategy. He noticed something on Von Slatherus’s beard. “You know, you’ve got a Texas shaped bit of mustard in your beard.”

“What!” Sploosh! Von Slatherus’ hand jiggled and his biscuit tumbled into the tea.

Kensington carefully guided his own to his awaiting mouth in a wholesome bite of victory for honor and the Republic of Texas.


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