2017年10月7日，茶农在福建省泉州市安溪县茶山采摘铁观音秋茶。 秋天，大自然打了个寒颤，不经意间碰翻了调色盘，洒下一片斑斓。 新华社发（张九强 摄）
With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term—té in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.
Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.
这两种说法都 中国。看看它们是如何在全世界传播的，可以让人们清楚地了解在成为一个广泛使用的词语前，“ ”是如何运作的。读音与“cha”类似的词语是沿着丝绸之路通过陆上传播的。与“tea”类似的词语则是由荷兰商人通过海上传播的，这些商人将这种新奇的叶子带回欧洲。
The term cha (茶) is “Sinitic,” meaning it is common to many varieties of Chinese. It began in China and made its way through central Asia, eventually becoming “chay” (???) in Persian. That is no doubt due to the trade routes of the Silk Road, along which, according to a recent discovery, tea was traded over 2,000 years ago. This form spread beyond Persia, becoming chay in Urdu, shay in Arabic, and chay in Russian, among others. It even it made its way to sub-Saharan Africa, where it became chai in Swahili. The Japanese and Korean terms for tea are also based on the Chinese cha, though those languages likely adopted the word even before its westward spread into Persian.
But that doesn’t account for “tea.” The Chinese character for tea, 茶, is pronounced differently by different varieties of Chinese, though it is written the same in them all. In today’s Mandarin, it is chá. But in the Min Nan variety of Chinese, spoken in the coastal province of Fujian, the character is pronounced te. The key word here is “coastal.”
The te form used in coastal-Chinese languages spread to Europe via the Dutch, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and Asia in the 17th century. The main Dutch ports in east Asia were in Fujian and Taiwan, both places where people used the te pronunciation. The Dutch East India Company’s expansive tea importation into Europe gave us the French thé, the German Tee, and the English tea.
Yet the Dutch were not the first to Asia. That honor belongs to the Portuguese. And the Portuguese traded not through Fujian but Macao, where chá is used. That’s why Portugal is a pink dot in a sea of blue.
A few languages have their own way of talking about tea. These languages are generally in places where tea grows naturally, which led locals to develop their own way to refer to it. In Burmese, for example, tea leaves are lakphak.