Not My Cup of Tea

Meaning of Idiom ‘Not My (or one’s) Cup of Tea’

When something is not your cup of tea, it is not something you like or prefer; not something one would choose. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.


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Usage

Although this idiom was originally used in the positive, and still can be today, it is usually expressed in the negative. We more often say something is “not my cup of tea” than we say something is my cup of tea.

Examples Of Use

“Reality dating shows are not my cup of tea. I prefer the science channel, instead.”

“Do you want to go to see that Dwayne Johnson movie?” “Action movies are not my cup of tea but I’ll go with you if you want some company,” said Aaron.

“We’ve decided to go to an Indian restaurant for dinner.” “Indian food is not my cup of tea,” said Dan. “Can’t we go for Thai instead?”

“I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but anytime I’m in Maine I always pick up some Moxie soda.”

Origin

The positive version of this idiom ‘my cup of tea,’ has been used since the late 1800s. Although its origin is uncertain, tea has been an important, and quite venerated drink in many cultures throughout history so using it to refer to something one likes is not suprising. The negative version, which is more often used today, has been used since the 1920s.  3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.