The Teatime Teaser is an anagram presented for the viewers to solve during each commercial break.
This feature was introduced at the beginning of Series 46 along with the 15-round format. Initially, seven-letter anagrams were used; from 8 December 2003 to 30 November 2016, the anagrams were eight letters long; and from 1 December 2016 to 17 November 2020, the anagrams were nine-letter anagrams (except on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, where they remained at eight letters), before reverting to eight-letter scrambles from 18 November 2020. The scramble and a clue for the solution are read out by the presenter each time a commercial break is introduced. The puzzle then appears on the Countdown logo screen; at the end of the commercial break, the solution is displayed.
Before the name "Teatime Teaser" was decided, this feature was known at different times by the names "Granagram", "Intergram" (from "interval") and "Telegram". It was also briefly renamed the "Santagram" during at least one Christmas season, and “Tinsel Teasers” for Episode S47, S48, and S49. They were initially clue-less, but clues became standardised at some point during Series 47.
A forerunner to the Teatime Teaser was used from Series 40 through 42, when Countdown was sponsored by Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil, whose sponsorship screen presented an anagram, between five and nine letters in length, for viewers to solve during the 9 round format's single commercial break. Despite its having appeared in more than 300 episodes, only about 100 distinct Seven Seas Teasers were ever used, with many scrambles having been repeated up to four times over the course of the feature's history.
Unlike conundrums, Teatime Teasers can have more than one solution, for example NUDEMAN could give MUNDANE or UNNAMED. The clue would most likely indicate that one is more acceptable than the other.
On Letters and Numbers, the Australian adaptation of Countdown, Teatime Teasers were known as Word Mixes. They were eight letters in length and there were two per game, one at each advert break.