Meme: That’s the Tea, Sis
When: That’s a tricky one. First mentioned in a 1990s interview, this meme has gone through many wild changes in the last 20+ years.
Where: Savannah, Georgia
Meme Meaning/What Does Tea Mean In Texting: That’s the hot gossip (news, the deal) that’s going around. Tea is slang for gossip.
That’s the Tea: The History
Memes tend to change and develop through the years. They often start by taking something nostalgic and make it relevant to today’s audience. “That’s the Tea” is a prime example of this.
According to Webster, That’s the Tea started - like a lot of slang - in black drag culture during the 90s. It was referenced in a nonfiction book titled Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in which drag performer The Lady Chablis is interviewed about her life. She mentions that she avoids certain kinds of men who could become violent when they “find out her T.”
Here’s a section of the interview:
"Yeah, my T. My thing, my business, what's goin' on in my life."
— Lady Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt, 1994
It’s thought that, in this case, “T” represents truth, specifically Lady Chablis’ truth of being transgender.
From there, it developed into a term to represent gossip. The “T” being the “truth” you’d tell someone when something particularly juicy had happened.
And from this, spill the T (or spill the tea) was formed, using the double entendre to show that gossip, like tea, is something juicy can be spilled or shared.
Finally, “That’s the tea” or “That’s the tea, sis” started being said, which was another way of saying that it’s the gossip that’s being circulated. These phrases have spread like wildfire on twitter, which went o/n to create some more phrases, like “Give me the tea!” (Give me the latest gossip) and “Where’s the tea?” (Where can I get the latest gossip).
Meme Culture: That’s the Tea
There have been several uses of tea and that’s the tea in meme culture, but Kermit the frog sipping tea is - by far - the most popular. While there’s not a direct link between the two, the “But that’s none of my business” Lipton tea meme, the popular Kermit meme has some striking similarities to the “that’s the tea, sis” meme. The Kermit meme typically includes gossip or some juicy truth - all while the famous frog is sipping tea.
In February 2019, there was a new addition to the tea memes. Eighteen year old Sammie Lewis posted a video of herself on TikTok, in which she takes a slurp of her drink, gulps it and goes “aaahhh,” and then starts tapping on the camera with fake nails while saying “Here’s (tap tap) the motherfucking (tap tap) tea.”
This part of the video went viral, and there have been a wide range of copycats. Lewis has also turned it into her catchphrase, and she regularly taps on her screen and says the words before dishing out some gossip.
The Perfect Reference
Using “That’s the tea, sis” is super easy. It can inserted after you’ve shared some gossip with a friend. A few tips, though. Before throwing down this meme, make sure it’s something outlandish or hard to believe. Then, when you drop in “That’s the tea, sis” you’re doubling down and saying, seriously, this gossip is certified fresh. It will give credit to the gossip you’ve just shared.
And if you’re trying to get the latest gossip from someone, ask them to “spill the tea.”
That’s the Tea Sis Merch
Can’t get enough of the tea? Neither can we. Big Moods has some of the best That’s the tea, sis stickers, whether that's hydro flask stickers, skateboard stickers, or laptop stickers. And that’s the tea, sis!