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|Type||Hot or cold beverage|
|Country of origin||China|
|Introduced||First recorded in China in 59 BC, though probably originated earlier.|
Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. After water, it is the most widely consumed drink in the world. There are many different types of tea; some teas, like Darjeeling and Chinese greens, have a cooling, slightly bitter, and astringent flavour, while others have vastly different profiles that include sweet, nutty, floral or grassy notes.
Tea originated in Southwest China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass the Chinese monopoly.
The phrase herbal tea usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These are also known as tisanes or herbal infusions to distinguish them from "tea" as it is commonly understood.
The Chinese character for tea is , originally written with an extra stroke as (pronounced tú, used as a word for a bitter herb), and acquired its current form during the Tang Dynasty. The word is pronounced differently in the different varieties of Chinese, such as chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, and ta and te in Min Chinese. One suggestion is that the different pronunciations may have arisen from the different words for tea in ancient China, for example tú (荼) may have given rise to tê; historical phonologists however argued that the cha, te and dzo all arose from the same root with a reconstructed pronunciation dra, which changed due to sound shift through the centuries. There were other ancient words for tea, though ming () is the only other one still in common use. It has been proposed that the Chinese words for tea, tu, cha and ming, may have been borrowed from the Austro-Asiatic languages of people who inhabited southwest China; cha for example may have been derived from an archaic Austro-Asiatic root *la, meaning "leaf". Most Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, pronounce it along the lines of cha, but Hokkien varieties along the Southern coast of China and in Southeast Asia pronounce it like teh. These two pronunciations have made their separate ways into other languages around the world.
Da Hong Pao tea, an oolong tea
Fuding Bai Hao Yinzhen tea, a white tea
Green pu-erh tuo cha, a type of compressed raw pu-erh
Huoshan Huangya tea, a yellow tea
A spicy Thai salad made with young, fresh tea leaves
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