Where does the word chai come from?

Tea or ‘chai’, as it is termed in India, is one of the most popular beverages in the world. It is regarded as the second most popular drink in the world after water. But have you ever wondered where the word ‘chai’ comes from?

Origin of tea

According to legends, tea was an accidental creation. In 2737 BC, when once Chinese emperor Shen Nung was drinking boiled water under a tree, a few leaves somehow dropped into his pot and he took a sip of it. Shen Nung, who was also an herbalist, decided to try the new drink which is today known as tea.

Etymology of the word tea

Tea is pronounced as tea, cha, or chai, depending on which part of the world you live in. After it became a popular beverage in China, it was called tu, which means ‘bitter plant’.

However, there are different ways of saying tea in different Chinese dialects. It is called ‘cha’ in Mandarin Chinese, ‘dzo’ in Wu Chinese, and ta or te in Min Chinese. Tea is the English pronunciation of the word tu.

Tea in India and the origins of chai

Tea was brought to India by the British in the nineteenth century to overcome the Chinese monopoly over tea production. Since the drink is called ‘cha’ in Mandarin Chinese, the British officers while discussing about this drink in India, used either the word ‘tea’ or ‘cha’.

The first area to see tea cultivation in India was the hilly areas around Darjeeling due to cold weather. Soon, the locals started referring to the drink as ‘chai’ after hearing ‘cha’ from the British officers.

Tea culture in the modern world

Traditionally, tea is made by adding various kinds of tea leaves to boiling water. This gave tea the aroma and flavours of the leaves. However, after the British decided to grind the tea for easier packaging and to lower costs, it became bitter.

To make this low-quality tea taste good, the British suggested everybody add milk and sugar to make the drink taste good. This gave birth to the modern tea culture of milk tea, chai latte, and Boba tea.

Health benefits of tea

Drinking pure tea has many health benefits. It has antioxidants that keep the body young and the immune system strong. It also cleans the digestive system which helps in maintaining gut health. The Caffeine present in tea alleviates stress and improves mood.

Side effects of tea

Excess consumption of tea might result in some side effects like increased anxiety, poor sleep quality, and nausea. It can also reduce iron absorption in the body. Some people might get addicted to tea depending on its caffeine.

Also Read: Tornado That Killed Hundreds Of Villagers On April 16, 1978 In Odisha’s Keonjhar, Watch

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