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(1)   A light midafternoon meal of tea and sandwiches or cakes
"An Englishman would interrupt a war to have his afternoon tea"
(2)   Dried leaves of the tea shrub; used to make tea
"The store shelves held many different kinds of tea"
"They threw the tea into Boston harbor"
(3)   A beverage made by steeping tea leaves in water
"Iced tea is a cooling drink"
(4)   A reception or party at which tea is served
"We met at the Dean's tea for newcomers"
(5)   A tropical evergreen shrub or small tree extensively cultivated in e.g. China and Japan and India; source of tea leaves
"Tea has fragrant white flowers"


Originally from the Chinese Min Nan dialect (POJ: tê, Chinese: 茶, bitmap: ), the word was brought to the west by the Dutch East India Company with the spelling thee. Many Western languages have this pronunciation at the root of their words for tea. The word for tea in other Chinese dialects such as Mandarin (Pinyin: chá) and Cantonese (Yale: cha4) was also exported as “chai” to many of the Indo-Iranian languages, Russian and Arabic.


  1. The dried leaves or buds of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
    Go to the supermarket and buy some tea.
  2. The drink made by infusing these dried leaves or buds in hot water, often served with milk or cream and sugar added.
    Would you like some tea?
  3. A cup of this drink.
    I’d like two teas, please.
  4. By extension, any drink made by infusing parts of various other plants.
    camomile tea
  5. A cup of any one of these drinks.
  6. A light meal eaten mid-afternoon, typically with tea.
    Kids, your tea’s on the table!
  7. The main evening meal, irrespective of whether tea is drunk with it.
    The family were sitting round the table, having their tea.
  8. The break in play between the second and third sessions.
    Australia were 490 for 7 at tea on the second day.
  9. Marijuana

Usage notes

Strictly speaking, "tea" has been reserved for infusions made from leaves of Camellia sinensis. Infusions made from other herbs such as rooibos, mint and chamomile are called tisanes. Latterly, the word "tea" has been extended to include herbal infusions.