Mad Hatter from from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - woodcut

“There’s nothing like a murder to enliven a party, except, perhaps, for two murders.”

-Professor Moriarty

If I had a shilling for every time a Steampunk asked me, “Jeff, how do I figure out whether or not there’s poison in my tea?”, I’d have….three shillings and a ha’penny.  Which would be fairly unfortunate for me, as I live in New Jersey and have no idea what a shilling is.  (I believe a “ha’penny” is a kind of ham sandwich.)

Still, given my considerable experience in this area, I’ve developed a few criteria which might be helpful.

To determine whether your tea is lethal, or simply full of the usual arrangement of boiled leaves, ask yourself some of the following questions?

  • Are you the heir to a deeply substantial fortune, one which has caused decades of family trouble and strife?  Was the tea possibly brought to you in a suspiciously deferential manner by someone whose last friendly interaction with you was in 1827?  Are your relatives lined up in an anxious row on the other side of your door, eagerly awaiting the  ominous “thump” of your lifeless body hitting a very expensive carpet?
  • Does your beverage taste strongly of arsenic?  And if so, why in heaven do you know what arsenic tastes like, and how are you even reading this?
  • Has the liquid within your teacup melted through said teacup, and the plate underneath, and the floor beneath that, and is it currently bubbling, hissing, and rapidly dissolving everything below it until it reaches the molten centre of the Earth?
  • When you attempt to sip your refreshing beverage, do you find yourself grabbed by a highly inconvenient tentacle which appears to be emanating from within the libation itself?
  • Are you now a ghost, standing over your corpse, examining the potation which brought about your demise and attempting to figure out how to fire your butler from beyond the grave?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then I fear you have, indeed, most likely had your tea poisoned.  Congratulations!  You now know the answer to your question!  I do hope it helps.  If this is not actually of assistance to you, I recommend switching to coffee.

-Jeff Mach

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