Steampunk Tea Duelling Rules


Steampunk tea duelling rules are rigorous. That’s because the noble sport of tea duelling is a noble one. It requires audience participation, honour, biscuits and piping hot tea. Let the tea duelling commence!

Tea duelling is a Steampunk hobby that is played whenever three or more steampunks gather in what is known as a “Tiffin Party”. It works best when the tea duellists are surrounded by a throng of excited onlookers eager to cheer on the victor and point out any instances of cheating to the wise and patient referee, known as the Tiffin Master.

You don’t need to be a steampunk to incorporate tea duelling into your daily world. You just need to be a fan of tea.

Professor Elemental will challenge miscreants to a tea duel at any time of day or night.

Tea Duelling Requirements:

  • Tea
  • Biscuits
  • Tea pourer, known as the Pot Master
  • Biscuit supplier and referree, known as the Tiffin Master. This role may be seconded to the Pot Master if insufficient players are available.
  • Two opponents, or Dunkers

Tea Duelling Rules

  1. Only tea may be used. Coffee? Chocolate? Don’t be facetious. Only tea. Milk and sugar may be applied to taste.
  2. Biscuits are traditionally all of the same variety to ensure fairness. As tea duelling has evolved, biscuits may be varied to allow for opponent tactics and strategies. Will you take a round chocolate digestive or a sturdy little Custard Cream? The choice, sir or madam, is yours.
  3. Opponents must have cups of the same size and shape to avoid any ugly discussions of cheating.
  4. The opponents must first shake hands and bow, then sit opposite each other across a table on which the tea and biscuits will be placed. They may eyeball each other and make desultory comments designed to wilt the opponent’s focus as desired, but they must shake hands before the duel commences.
  5. The Pot Master must pour tea for the opponents, taking care to ensure that the tea is sufficiently hot to allow for biscuits to crumble, and also ensuring that the same quantities of tea are poured into each cup.
  6. The Tiffin Master hands the Dunkers a choice of biscuits on a serving plate and invites them to select their biscuit of choice with an announcement of “choose your weapon”. The Dunkers will each select their biscuit of choice. Once a biscuit is handled, it must be chosen, with no substitution.
  7. The Dunkers will hold their biscuits by the edge not more than six inches above the cup of tea.
  8. On the Tiffin Master’s command of “Dunk”, both opponents will immediately lower their biscuit into the tea and hold it there, ensuring that biscuits are fully dunked with not more than half an inch above the surface of the tea.
  9. The Tiffin Master will forcefully count to five. On a count of “five”, the Dunkers will raise their biscuits and attempt to eat them. The entirety of the biscuit must be consumed for a clean “Nom”.
  10. If both opponents secure a clean Nom, the Dunker who last ate their biscuit is judged to be the victor.

Tea Duelling Strategy

Opponents and umpires may consider the following:

Featuring a variety of biscuits is not traditionalist but does lead to added consideration of strategy.

If an opponent is too slow to dunk, or fails to hold their biscuit in the tea for the required length of time, this is not a clean dunk and the process must be repeated.

Opponents will do well to hold their dunked biscuit in the air for as long as possible. A speedy Nom is easily achievable – the goal is to be the last person to resort to a Nom.

If a biscuit falls into the tea or onto the floor, table or opponent, the opponent has been defeated.

Opponents may consider their holding strategy for dunked biscuits. Different biscuits require different strategies.

Practice hard, train yourself and organise a tea duelling association in a locality near you. Let battle commence. DESTROY THE OPPOSITION. But do, do shake their hand before battle commences.

Fervent traditionalists take note: Tea Duelling should conform in full to the Articles of the Honourable Association of Tea Duellists THIRD EDITION 1899 (As compiled by the signatories of The Hague Convention, December 1899)

And finally… we bestow Earl Grey libations upon the head of the man first credited with inventing this sport, the marvellous Dr Geof of the First Tea Company. Good man, that man.

Main photo: Steampunk cog cookies from Miss Emilly Ladybird’s Steampunk tea party recipes