Map of the Etymology of Tea

Quartz has an interesting etymological map of the words for “tea” around the world. They fall into two groups, based on where in China the tea trade was based. The Chinese character for tea is . In the Mandarin and Canton dialects of inland China the word is pronounced “cha.” In the Min Nan dialect of the southern coast it is pronounced “te.”

Countries that historically imported tea by overland trade routes (Russia, India, the former Ottoman Empire) call tea by some variant of chai, and countries that shipped it by sea (the Netherlands, Britain, France) call it by some variant of tea.


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