\ˈtē \

Definition of tea 

1a : a widely cultivated shrub (Camellia sinensis of the family Theaceae, the tea family) native to China, northern India, and southeastern Asia and having glossy green leaves and fragrant white flowers

b : the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the tea plant prepared for use in beverages usually by immediate curing by heat or by such curing following a period of fermentation

Note: Tea may be classified according to its method of manufacture (see black tea, green tea, oolong, white tea) or according to the leaf size of the plant it is produced from (see orange pekoe, pekoe, souchong).

2 : an aromatic beverage prepared from tea leaves by soaking them in boiling water

3a : any of various plants used like tea also : a drink prepared by soaking their parts (such as leaves or roots) and used medicinally or as a beverage mint tea an herbal tea

b : tea rose

4a : refreshments usually including tea with sandwiches, crackers, or cookies served in late afternoon

b : a reception, snack, or meal at which tea is served

5 slang : marijuana

Illustration of tea

Illustration of tea

tea 1a

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Other Words from tea

tealike \ˈtē-ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of tea in a Sentence

Let's meet for tea tomorrow. That shop does a great afternoon tea.

Recent Examples on the Web

The President and First Lady will join Her Majesty for tea at Windosr Castle. Fortune, "Trump Apologizes to May and Vows U.K. Trade Deal After Brexit," 13 July 2018 In meeting with May and Queen Elizabeth II, the leaders are expected to discuss foreign policy and talk over tea. Editors, USA TODAY, "Trump visits Queen Elizabeth II, Wimbledon semifinals, Supermoon Solar Eclipse: 5 things to know Friday," 13 July 2018 Six years later the Queen hosted Bill, Hilary and Chelsea at Buckingham Palace for tea. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Here's How Every Meeting Between the Queen and a U.S. President Went," 12 July 2018 During a sudden rain shower, a man invited us into his home for tea or coffee. Doug Hansen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Hiking Spain's wild coast," 12 July 2018 Melania was planning to host Queen Letizia for tea while that meeting occurred, according to the first lady's office. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain Are Visiting the White House Today," 19 June 2018 Queen Letizia is scheduled to meet with the First Lady for tea, according to Women's Wear Daily. Temi Adebowale, Harper's BAZAAR, "King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain Are on a Whirlwind Trip Across the U.S.," 18 June 2018 It's been a whirlwind few days for Ragland, who met Queen Elizabeth for tea at Windsor Castle Friday, as final preparations were made for the royal wedding on Saturday. Angela Dewan, CNN, "Doria Ragland: Meghan Markle's mother by her side on wedding day," 19 May 2018 Earlier on Friday, Meghan’s mom Doria met with Queen Elizabeth for the first time for tea at Windsor Castle, PEOPLE confirmed. Nick Maslow, PEOPLE.com, "Meghan and Harry Are Having a Gospel Choir Sing This 1961 Classic Hit During the Royal Wedding," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tea

circa 1655, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tea

Chinese (Xiamen)

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Dictionary Entries near tea





tea and sympathy

tea bag

tea ball

Statistics for tea

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for tea

The first known use of tea was circa 1655

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More Definitions for tea



English Language Learners Definition of tea

: a drink that is made by soaking the dried leaves of an Asian plant in hot water

: a similar drink that is made by using the dried leaves of another kind of plant

: the dried leaves that are used in making tea


\ˈtē \

Kids Definition of tea

1 : the dried leaves and leaf buds of a shrub widely grown in eastern and southern Asia

2 : a drink made by soaking tea in boiling water

3 : refreshments often including tea served in late afternoon

4 : a party at which tea is served

5 : a drink or medicine made by soaking plant parts (as dried roots) ginger tea


\ˈtē \

Medical Definition of tea 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a shrub (Camellia sinensis of the family Theaceae, the tea family) cultivated especially in China, Japan, and the East Indies

b : the prepared and cured leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the tea plant

2 : a mildly stimulating aromatic beverage prepared from tea leaves by infusion with boiling water

3 : any of various plants resembling tea in properties also : an infusion of their leaves used medicinally or as a beverage

Medical Definition of TEA (Entry 2 of 2)


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Comments on tea

What made you want to look up tea? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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