Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tea, Ch’a, te, thee, or Chai? Oh..My!



Have you even wondered where tea got its name or why it wasn’t named something else like Camellia? After all, it is made from the dried leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant. Tea is the English name that we are all familiar with, but at one time it was called tee or tay. In India, it is actually called cha or chai. The name varied depending on which trade route was taken when the product was brought into a particular country. For instance, when it arrived in Russia and Arabia, from China, it was given the Mandarin word, cha. The word cha was used in India, Persia, and Japan with the Arab nations deciding upon, shai. Tibet used, ja, and chay was the Turkish word applied. Furthermore, when the Portuguese purchased tea from China, the trade came through the port of Maoco where the Mandarin word cha had developed into a Cantonese version of Ch’a. Dutch tea ships frequented the port of Amoy in China’s Fujian Province and therefore adopted the local word, te, which is pronounced tay. It was then changed to thee. Since the Dutch were the chief traders of tea to Europe, among other countries, the peculiar drink became known as tea or tee in England. In France it was called the`; thee in Germany; and te in Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, and Hungary. The word continued to vary and alter from country to country.

Just a bit of tea-trivia for you.....

4 comments:

Amanda said...

Thanks for this post! Last year when I went to Egypt I noticed that they pronounced shai in Arabic like "shay" which is similar to te (tay) which is similar to tea. I could see the evolution of the word. Also, interestingly enough, they LOVE hybiscus tea.

ChaChaneen said...

Fun stuff my friend, it's like going to tea school! Makes me crave a scone now. Lol

...mmm... said...

you know I love tidbits ltle more gratitude i see. Always loved Holland@

Charm and Grace said...

I am a lover of both history and tea... so thank you for this lesson!

Christi