View synonyms for tea


[ tee ]


  1. the dried and prepared leaves of a shrub, Camellia sinensis, from which a somewhat bitter, aromatic beverage is prepared by infusion in hot water.
  2. the shrub itself, extensively cultivated in China, Japan, India, etc., and having fragrant white flowers. Compare tea family.
  3. the beverage so prepared, served hot or iced.
  4. any kind of leaves, flowers, etc., so used, or any plant yielding them.
  5. any of various infusions prepared from the leaves, flowers, etc., of other plants, and used as beverages or medicines.
  6. British. any meal, whether a light snack or one consisting of several courses, eaten in the late afternoon or in the evening; any meal other than dinner, eaten after the middle of the afternoon.
  7. an afternoon reception at which tea is served.
  8. Slang. marijuana.
  9. Slang. interesting or confidential information; gossip; news:

    I hear you were talking to Sandy yesterday—what’s the tea?


/ tiː /


  1. an evergreen shrub or small tree, Camellia sinensis, of tropical and subtropical Asia, having toothed leathery leaves and white fragrant flowers: family Theaceae
    1. the dried shredded leaves of this shrub, used to make a beverage by infusion in boiling water
    2. such a beverage, served hot or iced
    3. ( as modifier )

      tea caddy

      tea urn

    1. any of various plants that are similar to Camellia sinensis or are used to make a tealike beverage
    2. any such beverage
    1. Also calledafternoon tea a light meal eaten in mid-afternoon, usually consisting of tea and cakes, biscuits, or sandwiches
    2. ( as modifier )

      a tea party

    3. Also calledhigh tea afternoon tea that also includes a light cooked dish
  2. the main evening meal
  3. old-fashioned.
  4. tea and sympathy informal.
    a caring attitude, esp to someone in trouble

Discover More

Other Words From

  • tea·less adjective

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tea1

First recorded in 1590–1600; 1940–45 tea fordef 9; from dialectal Chinese (Xiamen) t'e, akin to Chinese chá

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tea1

C17: from Chinese (Amoy) t'e, from Ancient Chinese d`a

Discover More

Idioms and Phrases

  1. one's cup of tea, something suitable, appropriate, or attractive to one:

    Horror movies and westerns are just not my cup of tea.

  2. spill the tea, Slang. to reveal interesting or confidential information; share gossip:

    In this exclusive clip, the famous actor spills the tea on who gets offered the best roles first.

More idioms and phrases containing tea

see cup of tea ; not for all the tea in china ; tempest in a teapot .

Discover More

Example Sentences

Terroir labels are also becoming more common for products like coffee, tea and craft beer, says Miguel Gómez, an economist at Cornell University who studies food marketing and distribution.

I happen to like watching Doctor Who, but if that’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine with me.

For all its economic and diplomatic might, though, China has its vulnerabilities — even with tea.

From Ozy

More recently, though, China has decided to upscale its tea outreach.

From Ozy

His team claimed he had ingested poison, probably through some tea he had drunk.

From Fortune

The smell of grilled meat mixes with the exotic wafts of cinnamon tea served with a mush of sweet brown dessert.

A year before he had similarly arrived with news of the Boston Tea Party.

Senseless bureaucracy is part of what spawned the Tea Party.

“I happened upon yak butter tea, a traditional high-energy food eaten by Tibetans,” Asprey says.

Adults prepare food and drink dark sweet tea on the doorsteps of their homes as they watch their children playing.

Being quieted by the Captain with a draught of cold tea, and made to sit down, the examination of the book proceeded.

Afterwards we saw you once or twice at tea at the Ritz, and you took off your hat, so you must have remembered then.

Janet might have said before leaving: "Tea had better not wait too long--Hilda has to be down at Clayhanger's at half-past six."

The tea was all laid on tables in the garden, and the sausages were cooking over a fire made on the grounds.

A trim maid then brought in the tea equipage, and Georgie did the honours with her usual unaffected grace.


Related Words

Discover More

About This Word

What does tea mean in slang?

There are, of course, many types of tea: green tea, bubble (boba) tea, the redundantly named chai tea, the tea tree and its oil, the Boston Tea Party, the teacup poodle, the Long Island iced tea, to name just a few.

But in slang, tea means “gossip,” a juicy scoop, or other personal information. (It’s best served piping hot.)

Where does the slang meaning of tea come from?

Tea refers to gossip or other private information. As far as we can tell, it was steeped in Black drag culture.

One theory connects tea to the celebrated drag performer The Lady Chablis, who is quoted in the 1994 bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: “Yeah, my T. My thing, my business, what’s goin’ on in my life.” T, here, is short for truth.

The slang tea may riff on The Lady Chablis’s T as well as on tea parties, at which well-to-do Southern women are popularly imagined to gossip. The term is especially found in the expression spilling the tea, or dishing out the gossip, associated with Black gay slang.

Tea spread thanks in part to RuPaul’s Drag Race starting in 2009. The reality show frequently uses (spilling the) tea for “gossip.” Meanwhile, talk show host Wendy Williams, has been known to drink actual tea while spilling some tea on her Wendy Williams Show.

One internet-famous tea-sipper is The Muppets‘s Kermit the Frog. In it, he is smugly taking a sip of Lipton tea and remarking “But that’s none of my business,” used to throw shade. The meme emerged as early as 2014 and is sometimes used, true to the slang tea, in contexts of gossip.

How to use the slang term tea

The Black gay and drag communities stills love tea, which spread into a more mainstream vernacular thanks to the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

You can spill the tea like you would use the more common expression spill the beans

Other tea expressions include no tea no shade, what’s the tea sis, and that’s the tea.

It’s also common to see tea being used as a reaction to someone revealing some sensational information (e.g., Tea!).

More examples of tea:

“East St. Louis may not have the staple food like the overrated Harold’s Chicken (all tea, no shade). However, it was the mom and pop shops from your everyday neighbors, educators and church folks that ensured anyone could have a cooked meal when asked.”
—Alana Marie, The Root, February 2019

“When Drake dropped his highly anticipated Scorpion album on June 29, it’s safe to say that everyone was shook by a handful of lyrics in “Finesse,” which seemed to hint at a romance with the model.”
—Lara Walsh, Elite Daily, June 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




teTea Act