Origin of tea
- the dried shredded leaves of this shrub, used to make a beverage by infusion in boiling water
- such a beverage, served hot or iced
- (as modifier)tea caddy; tea urn
- any of various plants that are similar to Camellia sinensis or are used to make a tealike beverage
- any such beverage
- Also called: afternoon teaa light meal eaten in mid-afternoon, usually consisting of tea and cakes, biscuits, or sandwiches
- (as modifier)a tea party
- Also called: high teaafternoon tea that also includes a light cooked dish
Word Origin for tea
1650s, earlier chaa (1590s, from Portuguese cha), from Malay teh and directly from Chinese (Amoy dialect) t'e, in Mandarin ch'a. First known in Paris 1635, the practice of drinking tea was first introduced to England 1644.
The distribution of the different forms of the word reflects the spread of use of the beverage. The modern English form, along with French thé, Spanish te, German Tee, etc., derive via Dutch thee from the Amoy form, reflecting the role of the Dutch as the chief importers of the leaves (through the Dutch East India Company, from 1610). The Portuguese word (attested from 1550s) came via Macao; and Russian chai, Persian cha, Greek tsai, Arabic shay, and Turkish çay all came overland from the Mandarin form.
Meaning "afternoon meal at which tea is served" is from 1738. Slang meaning "marijuana" (which sometimes was brewed in hot water) is attested from 1935, felt as obsolete by late 1960s. Tea ball is from 1895.
see cup of tea; not for all the tea in china; tempest in a teapot.