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Steampunk Halloween Tea Dueling With The Lord of Misrule

(Want to know a bit more? Here’s part of why we love Steampunk.)

People often ask us, “What IS Tea Dueling?”, to which we reply, “Who are you and why are we in this vat of lemonade?”

Here is a more serious answer. Not much more serious, mind you.

INTRODUCTION

Tea dueling, my dear friend, is not merely a sport but a genteel art form, steeped in tradition and drenched in the finest of brews. Picture this: a gathering of dapper individuals, adorned in top hats and corsets, at the Steampunk World’s Fair or a grand Halloween ball, all primed for a contest of wit and nerves over a cup of the finest Earl Grey or Darjeeling. It’s as British as a rainy day in London, with a dash of steam-powered flair. (If you’re confused, good! Confusion is an excellent prelude to the tea-duel, and is traditionally practiced by many champion Tea Duelists throughout Steampunk and other Universes.

(Here’s a blog post about what Steampunk is.)

To begin your Tea Duel with us…allow us to transport you to a genteel world, where you and yours have the opportunity to do honorable tea-battle. This year, the Lord of Misrule brings you years of hot-leaf-combat-expertise as we gather around to dunk pastries, gossip, wear our finest finery and/or our favorite Halloween costumes and/or our Steampunk garb and/or pretty much whatever you want, because we’d like you to have a good time.

Meet your fellow guests! Take part in a Steampunk tradition! Get your Halloween weekend started the right way!

SETTING THE SCENE OF CAFFEINATED COMBAT

From The Steampunk World’s Fair, by Otis Casey.

Now, imagine the scene: a polished wooden table adorned with lace doilies and an assortment of antique teacups, each brimming with the golden elixir. A hush falls over the crowd as competitors take their places, their monocles glinting in anticipation. The rules? Oh, they’re as intricate as a clockwork mechanism. Each duelist selects their weapon—the biscuit, that sacred dunking device—and plunges it into their tea for precisely five seconds. The goal? To daintily lift the biscuit to the lips without it crumbling into the tea, all while maintaining an air of unflappable composure. (Note: our actual table may or may not be this nice. You’re welcome to bring your own lace doilies, if you’d like.)

But ah, therein lies the challenge! For in this duel of delicate dunking, one must possess nerves of steel and a steady hand, lest their biscuit succumb to the depths of the brew, a fate worse than a malfunctioning dirigible. The tension mounts as the seconds tick by, spectators holding their breath as if awaiting the turning of gears in some grand steam engine.

THE TEA-DUEL IS FOR BOTH PARTICIPANT AND BEHOLDER

And the spectators! Oh, the spectacles they witness! Imagine a chap in a brass-trimmed waistcoat, his pocket watch ticking loudly as he carefully dunks his biscuit, eyes fixed in steely determination. Or a lady in a bustle gown, her parasol propped elegantly against her chair, executing a flawless dunk that elicits gasps of admiration from the assembled throng. This, my friends, is tea dueling—a spectacle where decorum meets daring, and where the fate of a biscuit hangs in the balance.

(And the ingredients of the tea-duel steep. Well, technically, only the tea steeps…but the biscuit is surely in a doughy tizzy of anticipation as it waits to sink!)

(IS tea-dueling related to the Discordian game of sink? Check out the aforementioned game and decide for yourself!)

THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF THE DUEL OF TEA

Now, let us not forget the quirks of steampunkery that infuse this genteel affair. Picture goggles perched atop bowler hats, and corsets adorned with gears and cogs, adding a whimsical twist to the proceedings. Perhaps there’s even a stray robot or two in attendance. (A Steam-Powered Non-Giraffe, for example). There it is, serving tea with mechanical precision or providing a bit of cheeky commentary in a metallic monotone.

(You don’t have to be in character/Steamsona to enjoy the experience, but you’re welcome to be if you want. As with most of what we do and most of our philosophy of Steampunk: as long as you want to participate in Steampunk, wear what you want, and do it how you want.)

TEA-DUELING RULES

[The original version contained no details at all about the Tea Duel itself. But of course you’d like to know. How can you properly cheer for your champions if you’re not familiar with the comping to come? Can you dunk YOUR biscuit into tea before your opponent can? Find out!]

The classic rules of the Tea-Duel, as elaborated by Clockwork Alchemy:

The rules of tea dueling are relatively simple. The duel is a contest of wills between two
competitors.

Each competitor is provided a cup of tea and their choice of a biscuit. The competitors
must hold the biscuit in a two-fingered hold. When instructed to dunk, the competitors
must submerge at least 50% of the biscuit in the tea for a count of five, and then pull the
biscuit out of the tea. This is where the duel begins!

The goal of tea dueling is to get a clean “nom”, in which you put the biscuit in your
mouth and bite it without having lost any pieces along the way. This sounds easy, but as
the biscuit has been submerged in hot tea, it will want to immediately fall apart,
presenting difficulty in achieving a clean “nom”.

If both duelists achieve a clean nom, the one who waited the longest before eating their
biscuit is declared the winner.

And what of the atmosphere, you ask? Ah, my dear compatriots, it’s positively electric! The air is thick with the aroma of freshly brewed tea. Oh, and what’s that? The crisp fragrance of fresh biscuits and the faint hint of coal smoke from nearby steam engines. Brass bands play jaunty tunes in the background, punctuated by the occasional hiss of steam and the clinking of teacups. Furthermore, what a delight! Surely it’s a scene straight from a penny dreadful come to life. It’s as if time itself seems to slow down to savor the moment. It’s a moment where each dunk of a biscuit becomes a feat of daring escapade.

As the duel reaches its climax, the tension is palpable. Will our intrepid duelists emerge victorious, biscuit intact and tea unsullied? Or will they meet their demise in a crumbly catastrophe, their honor tarnished like an airship caught in a thunderstorm? The outcome is uncertain, for in tea dueling, as in life, anything can happen. Indeed, it’s particularly likely when whimsy and tradition collide in a steampunk extravaganza.

(Actually, it might be an even more fabulous. you’d like… a Glorious Steampunk Rumbustification! A Steampunk Assemblage! A vast Steampunk extravaganza!)

So, my dear reader! The next time you find yourself at the Steampunk World’s Fair or a Halloween soirée, keep your eyes peeled. You just might spot the telltale signs of a tea duel in progress.

Listen for the clink of teacups and the rustle of crinoline skirts, and perhaps, if you’re lucky…

You might witness a duel of epic proportion. Yes, it’s a clash of tea-soaked titans vying for glory in the most genteel and peculiar of competitions. Until then, keep your monocle polished and your biscuit dry! For the world of tea dueling awaits, ready to charm and bemuse in equal measure. Cheers, and may your tea always be hot and your biscuits forever dunkable!

(Want a bit more? Check out Blackthorne’s Steampunk Bear!)

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