Why is Tea called “Tea”? The history of the word tea
Have you ever wondered, why is tea called tea?
“What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.”— Sydney Smith
If you can relate to that sentiment, welcome to the club! The humble tea leaf has spread around the world to become the second most-consumed beverage, after water.
Why is tea called “tea”?
The earliest recordings of tea being consumed date back about 2,000 years ago, in China. Over time the beverage was generally referred to in China as “ch’a,” or “tey.” As tea began being traded to other regions and countries, the name slowly took different forms.
In Japan, tea is called cha, with famous Japanese teas such as matcha and sencha bearing this term. As tea spread through Central Asia, Persia, Russia, and India, cha changed to chai.
In the 1500s the Dutch and Portuguese began trading in areas of China where the local word for tea was te, pronounced “tay.” The term quickly spread across Europe, including England, where the term morphed from tay to tee in the 1800s… and eventually to tea.
Like the many cultures and traditions surrounding tea, the word for our favorite drink is pretty much the same, yet a little bit different wherever you go. Whether you’re sipping spiced chai in India, freshly whisked matcha in Japan, or iced tea in the U.S., we are all connected through our love for this amazing beverage!
More New Tea Sampler Sets
Ready to explore the wide world of tea (or cha)? Our new sampler sets have something for everyone.