In the early years, tea was not processed and has a bitter taste. For this reason it was known as tu, a general name for bitter vegetables. Over the centuries it had also been called jia, chuan, ming and she. In the mid 7th century, a cross stroke was taken away from the character "tu" and since then the plant has been known as cha (tea).
The word "tea" in different languages is invariable borrowed from the Chinese word cha. China is a country of numerous dialects. Historically, linguistic exchange with overseas were conducted in local dialects. The modern pronunciations of "tea" in different languages are either based on coastal Minnan dialects or the mainland Canton dialects.
In the Minnan dialects of Fujian province, tea is pronounced "té", as represented by the Amoy dialect. Amoy (Xiamen) was an important external port with a long history of shipping and export. The word "tea" in Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Hungarian and Latin is based on the pronunciation "té" of Minnan dialects. In Cantonese, tea is pronounced "chá". This gave rise to the word "tea" in Japanese, Russian, Indian, Iraqi, Turkish, Arabian and Portuguese.