Origins of Tea

Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of where the word tea comes from and its pronunciation in different regions of the world. She learned these facts from her mother who is interested in history.


“There’s only categories of how you pronounce the word tea, there’s tea and ta. The different countries that say tea, you can tell how they originally source the tea from China. In China they call tea, ta. Ams there’s this one province that called in te. The dutch would travel around Africa to get tea from that specific spot and that’s the only place that says ta. So you can tell where these places got their tea by how they say it. Like Persia says it che and more of the western countries say things more like tea.”


I found this information really interesting. Being that the informant was 26, her mom, who taught her this, is about 52. It is cool to see how the older generation can bring about knowledge like this from their origins. I had never thought about the pronunciation of different words and how they came to be, but I am intrigued by language and am excited to learn more.