The compelling ending of this article reads that:

Mankind can always pride itself for the giant leap with a small step. But remember, there is always a tea shop set up earlier.

I wonder if the metaphor "there is always a tea shop set up earlier" is an idiomatic phrase in English or in any other language? If it originates from another language, is there an English equivalent?

  • 1
    I'm a native US English speaker, and I've never heard such an idiom. The sentence comes across to me as a non sequitur, and I do suspect it might be a translation of an idiom from another language.
    – aschepler
    Aug 13, 2023 at 13:33
  • Not as far as I know. Perhaps this is some expression used in Indian English? The author appears to have an Indian name, and the comments are from Indians, and the and the company he works for "Saksoft" is based in Chennai India (in Tamil Nadu). I'm from the UK and I've never heard this expression before. Perhaps it's a literal translation of an expression in an other language, such as Tamil? That's just a guess though. However, from the context, I would assume it's equivalent to saying that "there's nothing new under the sun", i.e. that somebody else has already thought of it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 13, 2023 at 15:35
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's asking about an expression with no currency in English, written by someone who's clearly not a native Anglophone anyway. The fact that we can guess what he's trying to say doesn't mean there's any point to having this question on an English Learners' Q&A website. Aug 13, 2023 at 15:54
  • ...besides which, culturally, "the first tea shop" just isn't something Anglophones would normally think of. I dunno what Americans would say, but Brits might say something like but remember, no matter how early you go to the hotel swimming pool, the Germans will always have got there first and put their towels on all the sunbeds! Aug 13, 2023 at 16:03
  • I put my towel out before I go to bed:P I do agree it's a rather tortured set of 'nearly-known' phrases. the whole article suffers from similar contortions. Aug 13, 2023 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


To be honest, the entire article is a little stilted, but just about manages to get away with it.
Neither quoted sentence is particularly idiomatic, but the overall intent seems reasonably clear.

The first, of course, is an awkward re-casting of Neil Armstrong's famously fumbled moon landing speech. Any adaptation of that will be instantly recognisable to most, and they will be able to extract any change of meaning based on that knowledge.

The second is based on the idea that no matter where you go thinking you are the first, someone will always have been there before you. It's like finding a secluded beach after an hour's difficult hike and as you walk out onto the sand, you see someone else has managed to get a VW Camper van down there and is busy frying sausages and drinking beer.
… or there's already a beach bar … or a tea shop.

I suppose to paraphrase - you can be proud of how far you've come, but don't imagine you were the first to make this journey.


"There's nothing new under the sun"

The blog post you linked quoted this. I'd expect most native English speakers would have heard it before, even if they wouldn't know where it was from. For example, "This new AI stuff doesn't really change anything--our business model is still the same. There's nothing new under the sun."

A potentially similar phrase is "The more things change, the more they stay the same".

"You aren't the first (and you won't be the last)"

This is an expression of sympathy, especially for a common mistake that many beginners make. For example, "You aren't the first college student to decide to stay up all night before the exam, and you won't be the last."

"Somebody already beat you to it"

Somebody has already done whatever you were going to do, especially if it means that you won't get anything from doing it second. For example, "Hey, you know that app idea you had? Looks like somebody already beat you to it."

"Ideas are cheap (execution is what matters)"

In the specific context of the linked blog post, this is similar. It means that it doesn't matter if your idea is great and original if you can't make it well, and that an unoriginal idea can be successful if the execution is great.

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