The tea is hot on Twitter right now. Specifically, a drawing of a teacup made from slashes, underscores and parentheses. In the center of the cup, people write a controversial or “hard truth” statement.
This meme might seem regressive. It looks like the little pictures that were sent with chain letter text messages and emails in the early 2000s. Usually it was a rose or a teddy bear drawing, and the message encouraged you to send it out to prove you were loved and attractive. Ah, middle school. I never got any tea-sipping iteration of any chain letters though, and I can’t find any evidence they existed.
But then we got Kermit the Frog drinking his Lipton, and the era of “white text outlined in black over the exact same photo every time” memes introduced us to the concept of “tea,” even though Kermit was officially known for giving a controversial opinion and then stating “But that’s none of my business.”
After Kermit gained notoriety and we moved into the “not always the same picture, just the same general idea” meme era, photos of celebrities drinking anything (or Kim K peeking out from behind a houseplant) became synonymous with “spilling tea” or gossiping. This one was more about reactions to gossip or controversial opinions rather than about sharing the opinions themselves.
Emojis made it easy for people to indicate that their opinion on something might be controversial or gossip-based. The frog emoji next to the teacup emoji (yup, it’s Kermit, back again!) could give context for an entire statement. The frog emoji was added by Unicode in 2015, and this is still a popular way to indicate a callout today.
So why is anyone wasting their energy to make that dumb picture when we have ACTUAL pictures right at our fingertips? I know everything comes back around eventually, and the ‘90s fashion that’s been our “vintage” trend as of late is on its way out. But if this means we’re going back to early 2000s punctuation picture things, give me the Mudd jeans and the lip gloss, and I’ll keep my emojis, thanks.