Leaving just one word each of tea-eat-ate creates a typical capital i shape, as in:
That letter (i) was of course the prime theme in my other letter wordplay (letterology!) post this week.
Even More Wordplay
Another EAT is created going backwards diagonally from square 9 to 1.
All three words can be fitted into five letters from nine in a cascading letters wave, for example, TEATE:
TEA, to start, then adding the other T for T(EAT), and then the other E for TE(ATE).
This works the other ways: EATEA (ATE and TEA added to EAT) and ATEAT (TEA and EAT added to ATE).
Happy Wordplay New Year!!!