Every country has a favourite drink. The Russians have their Vodka, the French their Wine, the Germans their Beer, Turkey has Coffee and we Indians have our Chai, or tea. The Indian Chai or the Chai tea is actually famous the world over; anywhere you travel in Asia, Europe and USA, you are bound to find a cup of hot, freshly brewed black tea that has been sweetened with sugar and milk and brought to that perfect boil. From Indian ginger tea to Indian spiced tea, you will find many variants to sample, having captured the essence of the finest of tea blends from the Indian subcontinent.
But if you are a globe trotter, we bet you have wondered many a times how to say “tea” in other languages….and we’re sure you have actually added quite a few new words to your Tea-tionary. So here is an article that will get your brain cells working a little extra hard to master some new terms you didn’t know, making the experience of enjoying your favourite cuppa, a pleasure.
Cha, tea, cutting, chai, masala chai, ginger tea – you know it by many names here in India. It’s the world’s most relaxing and soothing drink; unlike coffee that gets your blood racing and puts you in high gear, tea will soothe and calm the mind. Enjoyed for generations, tea has become the world’s second most favourite drink after water, and beats coffee hands down. With its many varieties, blends and scrumptious flavours, tea has won the hearts of people across the globe because it is not only a treat for the senses, but also comes with many health benefits. Every country, every culture and every region has its own unique way for preparing a calming cup and they all seem to give it a new name – each fit and worthy of being memorized if you are a real tea enthusiast.
For the true tea aficionado, who likes to travel the world in their quest to sample the finest and rarest of tea, here is a closer look at the language of TEA.
The Language of Tea
Tea originated in China, so it goes without saying that the first words used to describe tea were Chinese as well. The character used for tea in authentic Chinese is 茶, but it may be pronounced differently in different parts of China. Most words for ‘tea’ in languages all over the world have a Chinese influence to them, but what varies is the route this word took to reach that part of the world. Dutch traders adopted the word for ‘tea’ as thee, while the Malay/Indonesian and Javanese call it teh.
If you are ever in China and wish for a cup, the Mandarin word is ‘Cha’, but it’s also pronounced ‘Te’ in Southeast Asia and the Central Coast of China.
Now here are the interesting details about these words – Te, came from Taiwan and the Fujian Province, from the Amoy tê. The word travelled from there to the West through the port of Xiamen through Western European Traders and came to be known as ‘Tea’ universally. Now Cha is the Cantonese version and was the term used in ports of Macau and Hong Kong, other major trading areas, especially in the 16th century with the Portuguese traders. It’s these very same Portuguese traders who brought the samples and the word for it to India, where Cha becameChai. It was also picked up by the Persians and they added to it their own grammatical suffix –yi, and then passed on the word to become a part of many other languages like Urdu, Turkish, Russian and Arabic.
But languages that are more closely related to Chinese, for example Tibetan, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Zhuang probably picked up the term for tea long before these new-age terms were coined. That’s why in these countries, the pronunciation for tea still retains the terms ‘da’ and ‘ta’ from the Tang dynasty court.
Today ‘Tea’ is a universal term and while you may find a cup of tea anywhere in the world without really having to use the local term, it’s interesting to note that a large number of languages use native denominations, especially areas where the tea plant may grow locally. Keep in mind, in some languages the local word for tea might not really be to describe the tea leaves or the simple tea infusion, but the local infusion they make with their own cultural additives for the final drink.
Tea Lingo for the tea-aholics
If you are going to be travelling abroad and want to make sure you know exactly how to ask for a cup without having to open a tourist dictionary, here is how you say the word ‘Tea’ in other languages.
- French: le thé
- Swedish – te
- Finnish – tee
- Italian – tè
- Danish – Te or The
- Greek – τσάι (tsai)
- Malay – teh
- Portuguese – cha ((pronounced ‘shah’)
- Chinese – t’e, or ch’a
- Persian – chaai
- India – Chai
- Korean – cha
- Russian – chay
- Arabic: chai or shai
- Bulgarian: chai
- Croatian: caj (pronounced chai)
- Dutch: thee
- English: tea
- Afrikaans: tee
- German: der Tee
- Hebrew: teh
- Hungarian: tea
- Irish: tae
- Indonesian: teh
- Japanese: o-cha
- Korean: cha
- Latvian: teja (pronounced tay-ya)
- Malay: teh
- Maltese: te
- Norwegian: te
- Polish: herbata
- Romanian: ceai
- Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): thé
- Spanish: el té
- Swahili: chai (pronounced cha-i)
- Taiwanese: de
- Thai: chah (chah yen refers to iced tea)
- Tibetan: cha or ja
- Turkish: cay (pronounced chai)
- Urdu: chai
- (North) Vietnamese: che
- (South) Vietnamese: tra (sometimes pronounced cha or ja)
- Yiddish: tey
- Zulu: itiye
Pronunciations of “Tea” around the world
The pronunciation for tea also varies across the globe, reflecting again on the course tea took to reach that particular country through China. Etymology is indeed every bit as part of tea history and culture! If the above mentioned list has your mind reeling, what can be a welcome relief is that some of the terms that can get you a hot cup of your favourite beverage anywhere in the world seem to be –Cha, Chai, Tea, Té and Te.
Cha: Used in Cantonese, Tibetan, Korean, Sinhalese and even Bengali. A little variation with pronunciation, where the ‘a’ takes a rising tone or become ‘shah’ will also be the perfect way to say tea in Somali, North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese and Thai.
Chai: Apart from Hindi, there are many others languages that use ‘chai’ or a similar sounding word for the world’s favourite beverage, even though the written spellings might all be different. These are Arabic, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, Persian, Slovenian, Turkish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Greek, Romanian, Swahili, Serbian, Czech, Croatian, Wolof and Urdu.
Tea: The universally understood word for tea, the many variations in spellings might change from country to country but the pronunciation doesn’t vary much (will adopt local accent though). The same word will fetch you a hot cup when spoken in Hungarian, Basque, Afrikaans, Finnish, Dutch, Esperanto, and German apart from English of course.
Té: Sounds much like tea, but this is the term to use should you be speakingFrench,
Irish, Latvian, Galician, Catalan, Haitian Creole, Luxembourgish, Spanish and Yiddish.
Te: Some languages that use the TE without the accent above are Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Icelandic, Armenian, Maltese, Malay, Hebrew, Indonesian and Welsh.
Many names for our beloved Chai in India too
While you will find a hot cuppa anywhere in India if you use the term ‘Chai’, the word ‘Masala Chai’ has what made the Indian Chai famous the world over. Even in India, you will find that different states, cultures and castes might have their own name for tea! The Bengalis call is Cha, the Gujratis call it Chiya, and in Kannada it’s called Chaha while in Malayalam it’s called Chaya. In Oriya its Cha, in Tamil its Theneer, in Telugu its ṭī while in Nepali its Cheeya.
That’s how vast the vocabulary of tea really is!
And if you are going to be travelling abroad, you might as well sample some of the finest teas from the region to pick your favourite in advance, simply by ordering a small pack online at this amazing tea store!
For more information or to SHOP ONLINE for different kinds of Teas: Visit – Teabox
With very minor exceptions, the world has only two words for tea. One is like the English tea (e.g. thé in French, té in Spanish, and tee in Afrikaans). The other one is some variations of cha found in Arabic chay and Hindi cha for example.Is it chai or cha? ›
Chai is steeped in a rich history. The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”. In this case, the Hindi term chai means a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families.What do Chinese call tea? ›
The pronunciation "Cha" is tea in Guandong dialogue of Chinese. The word"Cha" is used widely in East Asia and East Europe. The pronunciation "Tea" is came from Amoi, Fujian province in China. Most of the European countries and the South Asia countries use similar pronunciation "Tea".What is tea in Latin? ›
In those languages the word meaning tea refers to a combination of Latin words “herba” and “thea”.What are other meanings for tea? ›
As for types of tea, the five main groups are white, green, oolong, black, and pu'erh.What are British words for tea? ›
Cuppa. Let's start with an easy one. We all know the Brits love a good cup of tea, but did you know that tea can also be called a cuppa.What was tea first called? ›
Portuguese priests and merchants in the 16th century made their first contact with tea in China, at which time it was termed chá.What is tea called in Japan? ›
Cha – 茶 – Cha is a generic term for tea. It refers to all types of tea made frmo camellia sinensis, however, in Japan, the term “cha” is used for tisane/herbal teas as well.
Roasted barley tea may be the most popular beverage in Korea. It's traditionally served both hot and cold in homes, in restaurants, and at other gatherings, either in place of water or alongside water, and many Koreans drink copious amounts of it each day. It's known as bori cha (or sometimes boricha) in Korean.Why is it called tea slang? ›
According to the Urban Dictionary, the slang term "Tea" comes from "the custom in the South of women who gather in the afternoon to drink tea and gossip." "T" or "Tea" is slang for gossiping about a situation, story, news, or some juicy information. You can give tea, get tea, or spill tea.What do the Portuguese call tea? ›
And not only it's “chai” in Portugal, it's “chai” in the former Portuguese colonies such as West Africa, some areas in South America etc (pronunciation in the Eastern European countries is affected by Russia's earlier trade routes).What is the real name of tea? ›
"Camellia sinensis".What is tea called in India? ›
The name “chai” is the Hindi word for “tea,” which was derived from “cha,” the Chinese word for “tea.” The term chai means a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families.What is tea called in Mexico? ›
Poleo is a tea made from the Hedeoma drummondii plant. Aside from being used to make a beverage in Mexico, this plant has also been used as a culinary spice by native cultures north of Mexico. Poleo has been found to be rich in antioxidants.What is tea in Italy? ›
In Italy, green is consumed and black tea, as well as herbal teas. Different types of Italian tea are preferred in specific situations: from strong black tea for breakfast to light green at the end of dinner. Italian teas with various aromatic additives are very popular.What is tea Spanish? ›
10 Facts About Autistic Spectrum Disorder (TEA) Spanish.What is tea lover called? ›
|tea drinker||lover of tea|
|tea connoisseur||tea enthusiast|
Tea refers to gossip or other private information.
An obvious choice is Longing Heart Flowering Green Tea (the name says it all) from the Anhui Province in China. According to legend, this tea was designed by a Tea Master to soothe him on the way to market. He combined fine tea with chrysanthemum petals. This modern version is green tea, jasmine, and amaranth.What is the most loved tea? ›
Black Tea. Perhaps the most famous, and most popular, tea in the world, black tea is a staple in many households. There are several types of black tea in the market, but Ceylon tea is widely considered to be one of the finest brews.What is the most expensive tea name? ›
DA-HONG PAO, CHINA
Priced around a whopping $1.2 million/kg, Da-Hong Pao tea is hands down, the most expensive tea in the entire world. This ultra luxurious tea is declared as a national treasure for its rarity. An oolong breed, its record dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
The 6 Main Tea Categories
Before you start exploring the world of tea varieties, however, you need to understand the main categories of tea: black, oolong, green, white, yellow, and fermented/pu'erh.
Funny Tea Sayings
"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." "Make tea, not war." "I like tea and yoga, but I don't do yoga." "I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."
Many people in Britain and Australia refer to their main evening meal as "tea" rather than "dinner" or "supper", but generally, with the exception of Scotland and Northern England, "tea" refers to a light meal or a snack.What do they call tea in London? ›
And in a nutshell, 'high tea' is not the same as the afternoon tea that we now all know and love. It consists of a more substantial meal served at the dinner table and eaten later in the day. While many people in Britain today refer to this meal as 'supper' or 'dinner', in many homes, it's still referred to as 'tea'.What is the oldest tea? ›
The world's oldest tea remains have been dated to 453BC-410BC in China in a new study by archaeologists from Shandong University and scientists from the University of Science and Technology Beijing. The 2,400-year-old remains of tea leaves were discovered in a royal tomb in Zoucheng, Shandong province.What country invented tea? ›
The story of tea begins in China. According to legend, in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water.Which country drinks the most tea? ›
Turkey had the highest rate of tea drinkers in 2022, with nine in ten people saying that they regularly drink the hot beverage, followed by Kenya. Tea is the second most widely consumed drink around the world, coming in only after water.
|nokcha (green tea)|
Chinese tea is tea made from Camellia sinensis tea plants. There are many types of herbal tea in China too, with many interesting flavors. However, real tea will always be made from Camellia sinensis tea plant. Chinese tea is usually made from two different varieties, Camellia sinensis var.How is tea served in Russia? ›
In Russia, tea is consumed after meals and during mid-afternoon breaks, but is not considered appropriate to drink with a meal. Loose tea is brewed in either a hot teapot or a "samovar", a special tea-making device that produces strong tea called "zavarka".What is Jeju tea? ›
Details: A Korean green tea from the southern island of Jeju.What kind of tea is drunk in Korea? ›
The most common tea from Korea is green tea but black tea, yellow tea and fermented tea (pu'er or 보이차) are also popular varieties. While all of these tea varieties look and taste different, they all come from the same tea plant: camellia sinsensis.Do Koreans prefer coffee or tea? ›
According to a survey conducted in 2021, the most preferred type of beverage among South Korean adults was coffee.What is a tea boy in British slang? ›
Tea boy or teaboy may refer to: The equivalent to a Tea lady. An alternate phrase for Ned (Scottish), a derogatory term for a hooligan or petty criminal. Colloquial term for an entry-level office job, similar to a McJob.What is British slang for tea and biscuits? ›
Tea and biscuits is popular British slang for enjoying a wonderful cup of tea and a biscuit, which is a cookie for Americans. The types of biscuits that can be served with tea include: Chocolate digestives. Malted Milks.Why do kids say tea? ›
Tea – Teens use the word “tea” to describe gossip. “Tell me the tea” is a way of finding out the latest social news about who likes who, who is “talking” (see definition below), who is breaking up, and other gossip.What is Russian tea called? ›
In Russia, the most common preparation of tea is called zavarka—and the key here is that it's not about what kind of tea you brew, but how you brew it.
Herbata (Her-bah-tah). That's how you say “Tea” in Polish! Though in many countries in Europe coffee is the drink of choice, in Poland it is tea that takes first place, by far.What is the tea called in Argentina? ›
Yerba Mate – Argentine & Uruguayan Tea.Who is the queen of tea? ›
Catherine – The First British Tea-Drinking Queen
Catherine of Braganza (age 22), the Portuguese princess who set the fashion for tea drinking in England, married Charles II in 1662.
A Dirty Chai is a regular cup of chai latte with a shot of espresso. Double the espresso shot, and you have a Filthy Chai Latte. Make with non-dairy milk, and you have a Dirty Hippie Chai Latte.How many tea types are there? ›
There are over 3000 varieties of tea, each with its own specific characteristics. The naming and growing of teas is in many ways similar to wine.Is chai an English word? ›
The word chai means "tea" in Hindi, from the Mandarin word for "tea," ch'a.What is the Dutch word for tea? ›
|-||Camellia sinensis; afternoon tea; tea leaf; teatime|
Cuppa. Let's start with an easy one. We all know the Brits love a good cup of tea, but did you know that tea can also be called a cuppa. This slang word came from the phrase “cup of tea” which was shortened to “cuppa tea” and eventually just cuppa.What is the French name of tea? ›
Answer and Explanation: The word for tea in French is thé.What is German tea called? ›
Schwarztee (black tea) and Fruchttee (fruit tea) are most popular throughout Germany with Kamillentee (Camomile), Fencheltee (Fennel), Hagebuttentee (Rosehip) and Pfefferminztee (Peppermint) all making an appearance.
Before the arrival of Columbus, indigenous Americans' caffeinated beverage of choice was a holly-based tea known as cassina. Also known as yaupon, cassina is a close relative of the popular South American holly-based tea, yerba maté.What is tea called in Greece? ›
Most often, chamomile is the tea people in Greece when you order a “Greek tea” or just a “tea” in a restaurant in Greece. Referred to as “camomila” in the Greek language, this tea is as popular as it is common. Chamomile, with its daisy like flowers, grows prolifically throughout the Greek countryside.What is samurai tea? ›
A unique tea from Japan blending roasted and popped rice with amazing green sencha. We took our Emperor's Genmaicha, got a little funky and blended it with fresh ground chai spices. The result is an amazingly nutty infusion with a bit of spice. Perfectly balanced green tea with sweet vegetal notes. Origin: Japan.What is slang for drinking tea? ›
According to the Urban Dictionary, the slang term "Tea" comes from "the custom in the South of women who gather in the afternoon to drink tea and gossip." "T" or "Tea" is slang for gossiping about a situation, story, news, or some juicy information. You can give tea, get tea, or spill tea.What is the cockney term for tea? ›
But what does having a cup of Rosy actually mean? Having a cup of Rosy simply means having a cup of tea, which could be any tea like Earl Grey, Jasmine, Green Tea, or any other type of tea you want. This expression is one of the most popular Cockney rhyming slang used all over Britain.