Hi everyone! Before I go any further, I want to thank Himanshu for allowing me to write a guest post for his blog. I appreciate this wonderful opportunity.
So today while I was enjoying my favorite ginger tea in the morning I found myself contemplating why this drink is called as tea? Then i started to chant this word like a mantra in my head and i do not specifically know why I was being such a child. Maybe i found it amusing to repeatedly sing it like ‘tee, tee , tee,tee..’ something i do many times when I am trying to think deeply over something.
Nevertheless, i started to search for this word’s etymological roots and traced it in china where co-incidentally this beverage came into usage for the first time! But they didn’t call it ‘Tea’ and instead had a word which they pronounce as ‘tu’. Now we all know about the Chinese language of Mandarin and the large number of words it has for almost everything so obviously pronunciation was bound to be different. Thus, out of all I found chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, and ta and te in Min Chinese. Therefore, the English version ‘tea’ seems to have been derived from Min Chinese.
So you see my non-nonsensical chanting of ‘tee’ was after all not that amusing, I was actually speaking Min Chinese (hahaha) !
There are other versions of it too like in Persian they call it ‘chay‘, which is again seems to have roots in Mandarin pronunciation of chá. Add a suffix ‘yi’ in it and it becomes ‘chayi/chai’ which it began to be known as in India with entry of Mughal dynasty!
But Wait, what’s the whole point?
My point is that today as a young generation we have become so out of touch with the language and its roots that we actually do non-nonsensical chanting of words without knowing their actual meaning or even roots from where they came into our respective mother tongues. If you have been reading carefully then you must be wondering- okay, the roots of the word are justified but the question about its meaning still remains,i.e, what is the meaning of tea?
Well, we shall again take a detour of china to seek answer to this question because chá is used for ‘a bitter herb’ and we all know how the tea tastes like without sugar. So, a beverage made out of a bitter herb is called as chá / chai/ tea !!
It is really important for us to know origins of the words and their actual meanings to have a clear and thorough understanding for our own sake.
Hey everyone check out more amazing posts by Kartikeya on his blog Advaita