Why is tea called “te” and “cha” in different languages?

The history of tea dates back to ancient China almost 5,000 years ago. The way tea is pronounced is split into two main groups, either “te” or “cha”. For example, “tea” in English, “thee” in Dutch, “te-neer” in Tamil…and “chai” in Hindi, “chay” in Persian, “shay” in Arabic… How did this come divergence in pronunciation come about? It is believed that the difference in the pronunciation of tea in the local dialects was passed on along with different routes tea was exported. “Cha” is exported across land, along the Silk Road throughout Central Asia, while “te” was exported across the water by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.


Leave a Reply