Brewing the Teas of the Stars

October 27, 2020

by Janelle Wazorick

These are the brewed beverages of the stars, boldly brewing where no one has brewed before. This cultural phenomenon portrays a bright future where humanity has landed among the stars, has worked through the problems of the past, and brought tea along with them. Tea has a prominent presence across the sci-fi franchise, illustrating that no matter how far humanity goes, tea is sure to follow.

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

While various types of black tea are enjoyed throughout the trek (black tea being a popular beverage in the prequel series and Lapsang Souchong being ordered in the reboot), the well-known Earl Grey is the most iconic, thanks to everyone's favorite captain. This captain enjoys the black tea blend with bergamot so much that when he was served a cup in the finale, he suspects that the tea was another (though milder) oolong tea: Darjeeling. The Captain is a man who enjoys a strong tea, evidenced in his vision of his grandmother making tea for him, making it strong and good - the way he likes it. Even in his later years, he continues to enjoy Earl Grey, although opting for the decaf variety with cream and sugar.

Though beloved by the captain, Earl Grey is not a beverage of choice for all the characters. The resident tailor of station wished that the replicators on the ship could provide a more varied menu, remarking he knew more about tea leaves than Earl Grey himself.

Green Teas

Not every officer desires a strong cup of black tea, preferring a less caffeinated variety. For example, whenever a pointy-eared logical alien species orders tea from a replicator, you can be sure that it will be either Green Tea or Herbal Tea. As caffeine doesn't affect them the same way it does others, explains a first officer Subcommander before ordering a cup of “green tea, hot” for herself. Even the Earl Grey connoisseur himself in his later years enjoyed a cup of green tea.

While not seen drinking tea in the original series, Takei's character is said to enjoy a cup of tea each day, as observed by the Chief of Security, who served under that captain. Noticing the Takei character's love of tea, the Chief and him bonded over it, to which another captain and coffee connoisseur observes, “You never brought me tea.”

Herbal Tea

Typically enjoyed as a remedy for ailments, herbals teas are featured over the course of the show. The alien subcommander and science officer, in addition to green tea, also enjoys chamomile and mint teas in her ship’s mess hall, sampling the human beverages instead of the teas of her native one. Every so often, insomnia will strike a crew member and an herbal blend will be recommended: When a commander suffered from insomnia while processing the arrival of a strange woman on his ship, the ship’s cook recommends tea: “Herbal is best. I have several [Earth] varieties, as well as some more exotic blends”. No doubt that chamomile, peppermint, and lavender would be among those sleepy-time herbal blends.

Ginger Tea was recommended by the Captain to a visiting admiral suffering from a cold. Even his aunt uses tea as a cure for the common cold, he mused as he offers a cup at 80 degrees Celsius to the suffering admiral. Ginger tea is a real-life suggested remedy for many ailments, including nausea and pain relief as well as supposedly supporting the immune system. An additional bit of honey in the tea could soothe a sore throat and cough common among colds.

Alien Teas

Who’s to say the practice of steeping leaves from a bush in hot water is exclusive to Earth? Throughout the series, alien cultures are developed and describe the food they eat, the games they play, and how they take their tea. We see a multitude of alien teas enjoyed among the crew and those visiting the titular station, a place where many aliens and cultures pass through daily. This exchange of ideas and products is perhaps not unlike the early years of the tea trade on Earth with various teas and ways to prepare it being exchanged among different people. A popular tea on the station is a red tea, a beverage that shares its name with Rooibos, a tisane from southern Africa.

Additionally, alien species are seen to have ceremonies surrounding tea. A certain alien species known for pride, ruthlessness, and brutality have their own tea ceremony. Tea Ceremony, which features a dangerous tea, is full of symbolism, and is described as a test of mortality. While they don’t feature deadly teas, there are many tea ceremonies around our world, most notably the Tea Ceremony of Japan, usually featuring matcha, which is a significant part of Japanese culture and full of nuances and meaning.