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Today, I’m celebrating a hug in a mug! My best suggestion: Make yourself a cup of your fav tea and be sure to focus on the ritual as you make each instinctual motion to brew the leaves. A cuppa is a small and simple way to create a loving moment for yourself. Tea at the ready? Excellent. Now, get cozy… Read on to learn something fascinating about the hot liquid you’re cradling in your hands.

Slowly sip your humble hug in a mug and feel the love. Image from Ellieelien via Unsplash.


For the most part, the world really only has two ways to name tea. And given that this steaming bevvie is enjoyed daily the world over (sometimes multiple times a day), the consistency of the name is something quite unusual.

The two names for tea are, first, a version of the English tea, like thé in French and tee in Afrikaans. And, second, cha, like the Arabic chay and chai in Swahili (yep, even east African countries are included in this term trend).

The reason is both fascinating and easily explainable.

Here’s why: If it came by sea, it’s tea. If it came by land, it’s cha.

Both terms originate in China (where tea and cha terms are used, depending on the area) and moved through the world either over the ocean or across land. The routes point clearly to the way global commerce worked. And this was all waaaaaay before ‘globalisation’ was even a word.

The term tea and its derivatives fanned out over the sea, carried by sailing Dutch traders. The words stemming from cha spread across land, along the Silk Road. (Which, by the way, stretched from China to southern Europe - a rambling 6,400 km / 4,000 miles long!). So if, in your home language, you use a term related to tea, your hug in a mug arrived by sea, and if you use a form of the word cha, your steamy drink has reached you by land .

Check out this sweet map showing exactly the routes of tea by ocean traders (blue dots) versus cha along the Silk Road (purple dots).

Map credit: Quartz


Maybe you’ll notice a purple dot nestled among the European blue dots. That’s Portugal. As the first European explorers in Asia, the Portuguese traded through an area in China where cha was the local term, so they stuck with it.

Other exceptions to the rule include countries which tend to naturally grow their own tea, like in Burma, where the local term is lakphak. In Poland, the term for tea is herbata, naming their tea leaves instead from the term for herb.

Still, these few special cases compared to all the consistent names for tea and cha in the world... Humans so revere the humble infusion that we honour its original name. I find this an awe-inspiring and comforting fact.


As the world slowly opens up again and we start to make travel plans for our future, you can rest assured:

Wherever you might go in this world, now you know exactly which word to use when ordering a cup of comforting brew at the cute local cafe.


I’m currently sipping “Happy Monday” (although it’s Wednesday - I was feeling rebellious ok) a fragrant lemon, ginger, black pepper infusion. I’d love to know: what’s your favourite tea or cha? And, has your tea reached you by sea or your cha reached you by land?

Thank you for sharing a cuppa tea with me.

Sit back, sip sip and enjoy!


With love, the Self Love Club x


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We write about Self Love practises, habits to establish joy and musings on living a fabulous life.

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