Why Do People Slurp Tea? Is It Really Rude? Or Right!

Tea Chat /

It always seems funny when I’m at a tea shop or with friends and I hear someone slurp their tea. What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to react? But, to hardened tea drinkers, it’s part and parcel of drinking tea.

So, why do people slurp tea? The most appealing facts about tea are its aroma and taste. As you slurp tea, it vaporizes, mixing with more oxygen in your mouth and nasal passages, this spreads and heightens the taste and aroma. Tea professionals use slurping to interpret subtle tones in the tea flavor.

There is, of course, more to slurping tea than simply the fact that it amplifies its aroma and taste. So let’s investigate slurping tea and many cultural and other factors surrounding it.

Slurping Tea Etiquette

‘to drink a liquid noisily as a result of sucking air into the mouth at the same time as the liquid’

Cambridge Dictionary

During this act of sucking in air, the liquid is caught up on the intake of air and vaporized. This may, or may not be acceptable for other people around you.

Slurping tea has become a form of enjoying the maximum benefits of this amazing beverage. It seems to be pretty common in certain parts of the world. Depending on which country you’re in, depends if people see this as bad behavior. Some countries are more inclined to accept it.

Slurping tea gives out what appears to be a loud gurgling sort of noise, and yet also helps the drinker to enjoy his or her tea. This is why some people – tea heads in particular, slurp their tea.

It’s can actually acceptable to slurp tea from the cup or do it by pouring it on to the saucer. The major advantage of the latter is that the surface area of the saucer helps the tea to cool down faster. This, coupled with slurping, helps to cool down your tea much faster.

Now that you know about slurping tea etiquette, let’s look into what happens when someone actually slurps tea, rather than sips it.

What Happens When Slurping Tea?

As I said earlier, slurping forces the tea to vaporize, in so doing it mixes more readily with Oxygen before hitting the inside of your mouth. This helps you to amplify the aroma, making the tea taste and feel much better than it usually would.

Another thing which happens when slurping tea is that it helps to cool down the temperature of the beverage so that you can actually taste it without burning your tongue!

This would be perfectly fine for the person who is trying to drink their tea quickly, rather than wait for ages for it to cool down. But it might not work quite so well for those around them.

Although, it’s generally acceptable to avoid eating or drinking anything which is smoking hot. This certainly makes slurping much more scientifically acceptable and doubtless more healthy for your body – I guess!

So does that make slurping okay?

is slurping tea bad manners

Is Slurping Tea Bad Manners?

The answer will change depending on who is being asked this question and where they’re from. In Asian Countries such as China, slurping tea is readily accepted and not at all frowned upon.

China has a heritage which is backed up by tea and there’s no reason why the Chinese should not enjoy their tea while slurping it.

However, things are way more different in the West, where slurping is thought to be rude to do in public. People living in western countries have different etiquettes when it comes to food and drinks and the same applies when drinking tea.

So, if you’re in the west and drinking a cup of tea, how can you ensure that you enjoy the tea while maintaining your manners, at the same time?

You can follow the below steps to make this happen quite easily and effortlessly.

  • Drink your tea and leave it in your mouth for about 5 seconds, while allowing it to cover the surfaces inside your mouth.
  • Swallow your tea but keep your mouth closed to keep and hold the aroma.
  • Then, breathe in gently through your nose.

Voila! Now you have enjoyed that cup of tea without making a bad impression of yourself with regard to table manners. This would be useful for you especially when in public places in any of the western countries of the world.

So, what can you do to avoid slurping tea, if it’s not accepted where you are? Your best bet is to wait a while until the tea cools down to anmore acceptable level, and then drink it as you would normally.

How Is Slurping Tea Accepted Around The World?

Like I said before, slurping tea would be considered to be absolutely fine and, in fact, highly regarded in Asian countries like China, Japan, India etc. No one considers it to be distracting or irritating when done at public gatherings in any of these parts of the world.

As a matter of fact, in some countries, most notably Japan, it’s considered rude not to slurp liquids such as tea, coffee, and soup. So you’re better off slurping in these countries in order to please your hosts.

That’s right, please the hosts …slurping indicates enthusiasm for a beverage. If you don’t slurp when drinking tea, it’s considered that you’re not seriously into and enjoying the beverage.

It’s a cultural thing and a perfectly acceptable one in China, which is a country known to have people slurping on not only tea but any hot liquid. 

When you go to the West, however, you’ll need to think twice before slurping tea, it’s generally considered extremely rude to do so in public.

So when here, it’s better that you don’t make slurping noises. They can be considered highly irritating for most people living in the west and who do not generally appreciate finding the ‘tones’ in tea.

When Is It Okay To Slurp Tea?

It is okay to slurp tea in places and countries where it is accepted as polite behavior. You can safely slurp your tea when you’re in a public gathering in such places.

However, if you’re not sure if slurping is accepted in a particular place, then it is better to not do it in public. You can, of course, slurp your tea if you’re by yourself.

When attending public gatherings in parts of the world where it’s not accepted to slurp your tea, again you’re better off not doing it. Even if you’re surrounded by a couple of people, it is better to avoid this act completely.

So, what would you do if you were sitting right beside someone slurping their tea?

It might be the best thing to move away from the vicinity so that you would not have to put up with the sound. However, if you’re not too disturbed by the noise, and don’t find it irritating, then just go right ahead, sit there and pretend you cannot hear it – maybe even join in!

Slurping In Tea Tasting

Tea tasting is different, it’s a skill, and it has a lot to do with how your tongue accepts different tastes. Tea tasters learn to feel subtle differences in various flavors of tea, which is how a variety of flavors are introduced.

Tea tasters are known to slurp tea as it enhances the aroma. Naturally, it allows the tea taster to get the aroma and taste of the beverage correctly which is key to properly tasting tea.

Tea tasters are not afraid to be loud when slurping because a loud slurp is known to provide greater information, therefore, a loud slurp, is a good slurp!

The distribution of tea inside the mouth, when slurping, helps to feel the taste better than in any other way. The more time the tea taster takes with this task, the better the results.


If you’re a tea head, then you might often be alongside company where slurping tea is the norm. But, I think as most people would naturally do, it’s about assessing the company you’re in before deciding to slurp your tea. You’ll still taste it well enough anyway.

I hope this has helped you understand more about slurping tea, whether it’s good or bad, when its ok to do it and how to get around NOT being able to do it – if you want to!

Let me know what you think below, do you slurp anyway? Do you care what those around you think? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. And, if you like this article please share it.

Also, if you like slurping, or not slurping… then you’ll probably like the kind of tea sets and other fabulous tea sets and accessories I’ve curated on my tea-ware page. Please do take a look.

Related Questions

What Other Liquids Can Be Slurped? Slurping can be done with any type of beverage and liquidized food. However, the liquids which are most commonly slurped are tea, coffee, and soup. Particularly in Asian countries.

Why Do Some People Find Slurping Annoying? This kind of behavior is often connected with prehistoric man …or caveman. Implying one has less developed social skills and are thought to be less evolved than humans. This is why some people frown at you intensley if you slurp!

What Is The Proper Way To Drink Tea? Hold the cup by the handle only. avoid leaning forward to drink. Back straight, head upright, eyes forward. Bring the cup up to your mouth and certainly do not raise your little finger. Take small sips, and place the cup back on the saucer in between sips. Also, don’t on hot tea to help cool it. Finally, if it’s a little too hot, try not to show it and let it cool further!

4 Replies to “Why Do People Slurp Tea? Is It Really Rude? Or Right!”

  1. I agree, in general it is annoying for other people listening to it! If you’re sharing a space, don’t slurp.

  2. I would say this echoes the divide in tea slurping quite well 🙂

  3. Slurping is ANNOYING. It makes my blood boil. Anytime I hear it, I have the urge to just slap the cup out of the offender’s hand. Drives me absolutely bonkers.
    Unless you’re from a country where it’s a cultural standard, I see no good reason to slurp anything when in a quiet space in the company of others. If it’s too hot, just let it cool down first!

    Just because you happen to find it satisfying and enjoyable doesn’t mean the people around you do. Have a modicum of respect. Yeesh.

  4. The thing I don’t get is that when you slurp tea it makes it cooler. For example when you slurp you can drink the tea when it is too hot to drink normally. Therefore the slurping has a practical purpose, and I do it whenever possible!

    I say if you are annoying people by slurping, then THEY should go away and be boring somewhere else! LOL

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