I read an interesting article recently about rivalry and jealousy among some of America’s well-known TV anchors. The article had an interesting expression I had not used in a long time. It said rival anchors often spill the tea on each other. To spill something means to accidentally cause liquid to flow over the edge of its container. I sometimes accidentally spill hot tea from the teacup onto my hand. But the American slang expression “spill the tea” has a completely different meaning. It means to reveal sensitive secrets about other people or to share gossip about other people. If your best friend confidentially tells you he has an unhappy marriage but you tell other people about this secret, you are spilling the tea.
This expression has an interesting origin. It came from the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which is based on a true story. A movie based on the book and with the same name came out in 1997. I enjoyed the movie but critics and audiences gave it bad reviews. It is about two gay lovers, a transgender called Lady Chablis, and a reporter. Lady Chablis is a real person who was born male and became a transgender person and a drag queen. A drag queen is a man who dresses like a woman. In the book she uses the phrase “spill the t”. Although the letter “t” sounds like “tea” it actually means “truth”.
The slang expression “spill the t” means telling true secrets. But the expression evolved into “spilling the tea”. The expression was originally popular among African-Americans, drag queens, and gay people. But as society gradually accepted drag queens the expression became more widely used. It has a similar meaning to the more common expression “spill the beans”. To spill the beans means to tell people secret information that you are not supposed to reveal. Reporters always try to get their sources to spill the beans on top government officials.
我最近讀到一篇有趣的文章，是關於美國知名的電視新聞主播之間的競爭與嫉妒。那篇文章中有一個有趣的習語，我很久沒有用過了。它說競爭的主播之間常常互相「濺茶」（spill the tea）。To spill something是指意外讓液體從容器的邊外溢出來。我有時也會不小心讓熱茶從茶杯邊濺瀉（spill）到我手上。但美式俚語“spill the tea”卻有着截然不同的意思。它是指去揭露他人敏感的私事，又或去聊他人的八卦。若你的好友私下跟你說他婚姻很不美滿，但你卻跟其他人爆了這個秘密，那你就在 spilling the tea。
這個習語有一個有趣的來源；它來自一九九四年根據真人真事編寫的小說《午夜善惡花園》，而改編自小說的同名電影則於一九九七年推出。我喜歡那套電影，但影評人和觀眾卻給了負評。電影是關於兩個同性戀人、一個名為夏布利夫人的變性人，以及一個記者。夏布利夫人是個真實人物，出生時是男性，但成為了變性人和 a drag queen—— a drag queen是變裝皇后：裝扮穿着成女性的男性。在書中她用了習語“spill the t”，雖然“t”跟茶的“tea”發音相近，但它其實是指真相“truth”。
習語“spill the t”意即透露隱私與真相，但這個習語慢慢演變成“spilling the tea”。習語本來於非裔美國人、變裝皇后（drag queens）和同性戀者之間流行，但隨着社會逐漸接受變裝皇后（drag queens），這個習語亦變得更為普及。它跟更為常見的習語“spill the beans”意思相近。To spill the beans是指去洩漏一些你本來不應披露的秘密。記者就常常試圖從各種消息來源去洩露（spill the beans）高官的秘密。