Word for Wednesday: Tea

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Tea time…

Since its discovery in China almost 5000 years ago, billions of people in almost every corner of the world have enjoyed a good old cuppa.

For many, the cup of tea is a source of comfort and reassurance and often the ritual of making tea is just as important as that first slurp.

Initially tea was also used for medicinal purposes and I suppose it still is. In times of stress or tiredness we often seek refuge in a nice warm cup of 'cha'.

Tea arrived in England in the 17th century through the Dutch‘East India Company’, which still transports tea around the world today.

The word ‘tea’ itself came into the English language in the late 16th century as 'cha', 'chia' or 'tcha'. By the 17th century, the word had evolved to 'tay' or 'thea' and was pronounced more like ‘t-ey’.

As tea became more available across Europe, the word remained fairly consistent with the Dutch ‘thee’ (e.g. French 'thé'). Interestingly, the countries nearer China stayed truer to the Mandarin word ‘chai’ (e.g. Arabic 'shay').

I’ll leave you with a humorous quote from James Joyce’s Ulysses and one which I abide by every day:

When I makes tea, I makes tea… And when I makes water, I makes water

Hugh MacDermott


28 May 2014
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