(A drink made by pouring hot water onto) dried and cut leaves and sometimes flowers, especially the leaves of the tea plant
A lemon tea
1 (no plural) the dry leaves of a special plant that you use to make tea to drink
2 (no plural) a brown drink that you make with hot water and the dry leaves of a special plant:
Would you like a cup of tea?
3 (plural teas) a cup of this drink:
Two teas, please.
4 (plural teas) (British) a small afternoon meal of sandwiches (= two slices of bread with food between them), cakes and cups of tea
Some people call their evening meal tea, especially when it is eaten early in the evening.
Look at the note at meal.
tea S1 W2 /tiː/ BrE AmE noun
[Date: 1600-1700; Language: Chinese; Origin: te]
a) [uncountable and countable] a hot brown drink made by pouring boiling water onto the dried leaves from a particular Asian bush, or a cup of this drink:
Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?
Do you take milk and sugar in your tea?
I’d like two teas and a piece of chocolate cake, please.
b) [uncountable] dried, finely cut leaves that are used to make tea
c) [uncountable] bushes whose leaves are used to make tea:
2. mint/camomile etc tea a hot drink made by pouring boiling water onto leaves or flowers, sometimes used as a medicine
3. MEAL [uncountable and countable] British English
a) a small meal of cake or ↑biscuits eaten in the afternoon with a cup of tea:
We serve lunch and afternoon tea.
We stopped for a cream tea on the way home (=tea and cream cakes).
b) used in some parts of Britain to mean a large meal that is eaten early in the evening ⇨ ↑high tea
4. tea and sympathy British English kindness and attention that you give someone when they are upset
⇨ not be your cup of tea at ↑cup1
• • •
▪ a cup/mug of tea Would you like a cup of tea?
▪ a pot of tea Shall I make a pot of tea?
▪ hot The tea was too hot to drink.
▪ sweet I poured Helen a mug of sweet tea and waited for her to answer.
▪ strong You've made the tea too strong.
▪ weak You have your tea weak, don't you Chris?
▪ black (=without milk) I ordered black tea and toast.
▪ white (=with milk) Two white teas and a coffee, please.
▪ milky (=with a lot of milk) I don't like my tea so milky.
▪ drink tea Susan sank into her chair and drank her tea.
▪ pour tea She poured the tea and handed a cup to Cara.
• • •
■ types of meal
▪ breakfast a meal that you eat in the morning
▪ brunch a meal that you eat in the late morning, instead of breakfast or lunch
▪ lunch a meal that you eat in the middle of the day
▪ tea British English a meal that you eat in the afternoon or evening
▪ dinner the main meal of the day, which most people eat in the evening
▪ supper a small meal that you eat in the evening, in British English; the main meal that you eat in the evening, in American English
▪ picnic a meal that you eat outdoors, consisting of food that you cooked or prepared earlier
▪ barbecue a meal that you cook outdoors over hot coals or wood and eat outdoors
▪ snack a small amount of food that is eaten between main meals or instead of a meal
▪ side dish food eaten with the main course, such as vegetables: I’ll have the salad as a side dish.
▪ course one of the separate parts of a meal, such as the starter or the dessert: a three-course meal
tea [tea teas teaed tea'd teaing] [tiː] [tiː] noun
1. uncountable the dried leaves (called tea leaves) of the tea bush
see also green tea
2. uncountable a hot drink made by pouring boiling water onto tea leaves. It may be drunk with milk or lemon and/or sugar added
• a cup/mug/pot of tea
• lemon/iced tea
• Would you like tea or coffee?
• Do you take sugar in your tea?
3. countable a cup of tea
• Two teas, please.
4. uncountable, countable a hot drink made by pouring boiling water onto the leaves of other plants
• camomile/mint/herb, etc. tea
see also beef tea
5. uncountable, countable the name used by some people in Britain for the cooked meal eaten in the evening, especially when it is eaten early in the evening
• You can have your tea as soon as you come home from school.
compare dinner, supper
6. uncountable, countable (BrE) a light meal eaten in the afternoon or early evening, usually with sandwiches and/or biscuits and cakes and with tea to drink
see also cream tea, high tea
more at not sb's cup of tea at cup n.
Idiom: not for all the tea in China
mid 17th cent.: probably via Malay from Chinese (Min dialect) te; related to Mandarin chá. Compare with char (noun - sense 2).
Americans and British people generally eat three meals a day though the names vary according to people’s lifestyles and where they live.
The first meal of the day is breakfast. The traditional full English breakfast served in many British hotels may include fruit juice, cereal, bacon and eggs, often with sausages and tomatoes, toast and marmalade, and tea or coffee. Few people have time to prepare a cooked breakfast at home and most have only cereal and/or toast with tea or coffee. Others buy coffee and a pastry on their way to work.
The traditional American breakfast includes eggs, some kind of meat and toast. Eggs may be fried, ‘over easy’, ‘over hard’ or ‘sunny side up’, or boiled, poached or in an omelette (= beaten together and fried). The meat may be bacon or sausage. People who do not have time for a large meal have toast or cereal and coffee. It is common for Americans to eat breakfast in a restaurant. On Saturday and Sunday many people eat brunch late in the morning. This consists of both breakfast and lunch dishes, including pancakes and waffles (= types of cooked batter) that are eaten with butter and maple syrup.
Lunch, which is eaten any time after midday, is the main meal of the day for some British people, though people out at work may have only sandwiches. Some people also refer to the midday meal as dinner. Most workers are allowed about an hour off work for it, called the lunch hour, and many also go shopping. Many schools offer a cooked lunch (school lunch or school dinner), though some students take a packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit, etc. Sunday lunch is special and is, for many families, the biggest meal of the week, consisting traditionally of roast meat and vegetables and a sweet course. In the US lunch is usually a quick meal, eaten around midday. Many workers have a half-hour break for lunch, and buy a sandwich from near their place of work. Business people may sometimes eat a larger lunch and use the time to discuss business.
The main meal of the day for most people is the evening meal, called supper, tea or dinner. It is usually a cooked meal with meat or fish or a salad, followed by a sweet course. In Britain younger children may have tea when they get home from school. Tea, meaning a main meal for adults, is the word used in some parts of Britain especially when the evening meal is eaten early. Dinner sounds more formal than supper, and guests generally receive invitations to ‘dinner’ rather than to ‘supper’. In the US the evening meal is called dinner and is usually eaten around 6 or 6.30 p.m. In many families, both in Britain and in the US, family members eat at different times and rarely sit down at the table together.
Many people also eat snacks between meals. Most have tea or coffee at mid-morning, often called coffee time or the coffee break. In Britain in the past this was sometimes also called elevenses. In the afternoon many British people have a tea break. Some hotels serve afternoon tea which consists of tea or coffee and a choice of sandwiches and cakes. When on holiday/vacation people sometimes have a cream tea of scones, jam and cream. In addition many people eat chocolate bars, biscuits (AmE cookies) or crisps (AmE chips). Some British people have a snack, sometimes called supper, consisting of a milk drink and a biscuit before they go to bed. In the US children often have milk and cookies after school.
Many British people have a cup of tea in the morning, and several more during the day. Some people stop work for a few minutes to have a tea break. Most people in Britain offer a cup of tea to anybody visiting their home or office. Tea also suggests comfort and warmth, and sitting down with a ‘nice cup of tea’ is a common response to problems and worries.
People use the words dinner, lunch, supper and tea in different ways depending on which English-speaking country they come from. In Britain it may also depend on which part of the country or which social class a person comes from.
A meal eaten in the middle of the day is usually called lunch. If it is the main meal of the day it may also be called dinner in BrE, especially in the north of the country.
A main meal eaten in the evening is usually called dinner, especially if it is a formal meal. Supper is also an evening meal, but more informal than dinner and usually eaten at home. It can also be a late meal or something to eat and drink before going to bed.
In BrE, tea is a light meal in the afternoon with sandwiches, cakes, etc. and a cup of tea: ▪ a cream tea. It can also be a main meal eaten early in the evening, especially by children: ▪ What time do the kids have their tea?
As a general rule, if dinner is the word someone uses for the meal in the middle of the day, they probably call the meal in the evening tea or supper. If they call the meal in the middle of the day lunch, they probably call the meal in the evening dinner.
Brunch, a combination of breakfast and lunch, is becoming more common, especially as a meal where your guests serve themselves.
• A lady comes round the office with a tea trolley in the afternoon.
• All rooms have tea-making facilities.
• Allow the tea to cool before you drink it.
• He stores his books in a tea chest.
• He tried to alleviate their disappointment by inviting them in for tea and sympathy.
• I cleared away the tea things.
• I decided to treat myself to a cream tea in the tea room next door.
• I don't drink tea.
• I'll bring you a cup of tea in a few minutes.
• I'll have tea— white, no sugar, please.
• I'll make you some tea.
• John rushed around dispensing tea and cakes to everyone.
• Pour me a cup of tea please.
• She sipped her hot tea slowly.
• The hospital tea bar is run by volunteers.
• There's some fresh tea in the pot.
• There's some fresh= just made tea in the pot.
• You haven't let the tea brew long enough.
• a bone china tea service
• an authentic Japanese tea house
• When we were on holiday we had cream teas every day.
• Would you like to come to tea on Sunday?
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition
tea / tiː / noun (DRINK)
A1 [ C or U ] (a drink made by pouring hot water onto) dried and cut leaves and sometimes flowers, especially the leaves of the tea plant:
a selection of herbal teas
I'd love a cup of tea, please.
"Shall I pour the tea?" "No, let it brew (= get stronger) a while."
Tea and biscuits will be provided at eleven o'clock.
How do you like your tea - strong or weak ?
We sat in the shade of a tree, sipping tea and eating scones.
I'm not much of a tea drinker .
UK informal How about a nice cup of tea? That'll make you feel better.
[ C ] a cup of tea:
Two teas, please.
tea / tiː / noun (MEAL)
[ U or C ] a meal that is eaten in the early evening and is usually cooked B1 [ U or C ] a small meal eaten in the late afternoon, usually including cake and a cup of tea
© Cambridge University Press 2013
Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English.
Tea is a drink made by adding hot water to tea leaves or tea bags. Many people add milk to the drink and some add sugar.
...a cup of tea...
Would you like some tea?...
Four or five men were drinking tea from flasks.
A cup of tea can be referred to as a tea.
Would anybody like a tea or coffee?
The chopped dried leaves of the plant that tea is made from is referred to as tea.
...a packet of tea...
Tea is a meal some people eat in the late afternoon. It consists of food such as sandwiches and cakes, with tea to drink. (BRIT)
I’m doing the sandwiches for tea...
see also afternoon tea, high tea
Some people refer to the main meal that they eat in the early part of the evening as tea. (BRIT)
At five o’clock he comes back for his tea.
If you say that someone or something is not your cup of tea, you mean that they are not the kind of person or thing that you like.
Politics was not his cup of tea...
PHRASE: v-link PHR, usu with brd-neg
tea /ˈtiː/ noun, pl teas
1 [count, noncount]
a : a drink that is made by soaking the dried leaves of an Asian plant in hot water
• a cup of tea
b : a similar drink that is made by using the dried leaves of another kind of plant
• herbal/mint tea
- see also green tea
2 [noncount] : the dried leaves that are used in making tea
• a bag of tea
a : a light meal or snack that usually includes tea with sandwiches, cookies, or cakes and that is served in the late afternoon
• Let's meet for tea tomorrow.
• That shop does a great afternoon tea.
b [count, noncount] : a cooked meal that is served in the early evening - see also cream tea, high tea
not for all the tea in China informal + old-fashioned : not for any reason
• I would never invite him to my house again—not for all the tea in China.
not your cup of tea
- see 1cup