Have you ever been curious about what “TEA” is called in different countries? Can you believe that tea is either called“tê” or “Chá” in almost all languages globally? The Chinese character of tea- “ 茶 “ actually has different pronunciations among different Chinese varieties. Tea refers to “Chá” among most of the Chinese varieties, except the Min Chinese pronounced as “tê” in Min Nan dialect instead. Min Chinese are mainly scattered throughout Fujian and Guangdong provinces, which are situated in the coastal region of China. They have been known as playing a huge influence on the first stage of tea globalization.
As legend has said, tea was discovered by the emperor Shen Nong accidentally 5000 years ago in China. However, the globalization of tea did not start until 4000 years ago. The product of tea was first introduced to Europe in the late 16th century during the Age of Discovery, when European nations began exploring the world and evolving into an age of colonial period. At the beginning of the colonial period, Portugal was the first country to discover tea (also known as Chá) in China and bring it back home. Not until the late 16th century, the “ tê ” name form was then being introduced to Europe via the Dutch East India Company, due to most of the Dutch ports being located in the coastal region with the influence of Min Chinese. As a result, you can discover an interesting fact from the map that, besides, Portugal refers to tea as ” Chá “, the tea names in countries such as Spain (te) , German (tee) , France (thé ) and the UK (tea) are all derived from the root of the name “ tê ” thanks to the Dutch influence!