2570: Captain Picard Tea Order

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Captain Picard Tea Order
We can ask the Earl for his order once he's fully extruded from the dispenser.
Title text: We can ask the Earl for his order once he's fully extruded from the dispenser.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by EXTRUDED EARL GREY- Please change this comment when editing this page. There would be way too many additional citations needed for it to work here. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard is the captain of the starship USS Enterprise in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Earl Grey tea is a beverage that he requests many times in the series, with the exact phrase "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."

Randall is parodying this expression with other words that could follow "Tea. Earl Grey.", starting from ones considered "normal" moving to those presumed increasingly "less normal" down a long and winding arrow.

The machine that Picard is using is a replicator, which can create objects (typically food and drink) according to a pre-programmed pattern, such as Picard's requested Earl Grey tea. In principle, almost anything can be ordered, so some might consider it a bit boring that it is always just tea. And always hot. But for Picard, this is presumably a constant comfort to punctuate what can often be a far from routine job.

When Picard orders his usual tea, other qualifying options are illustrated, as if upon a list or submenu that might be displayed for those that need a hint - though Picard is usually focused upon his more frequent choice when giving the voice command.

Then results of two examples from the normal/less-normal scale are also illustrated: Sticky tea and loud tea. Sticky is kind of obvious, though perhaps not immediately understandable, but the loud version is a tea that screams "Teeee..." The vibrating and screeching teacup may be a reference to the various Star Trek episodes about tribbles, which behave in a similar way in the presence of Klingons.

The very last qualifying addition, the least normal is not a single word but "Tea for him, too." This reinterprets the meaning of the standard introductory words, such that the replicator has produced a plain (unspecified) tea as well as an actual "Earl Grey", like a living person (either one of the Earl Greys or a person named Grey with the given forename of Earl). Picard has on purpose ordered tea for himself, followed by a person called Earl Grey, and then queues up a further tea to serve to this newly created person.

In contrast to the often trivial use of a replicator as merely a potentially infinitely versatile vending-machine, the comic sets up a number of quite esoteric options, culminating in Earl Gray himself potentially drinking (generic) tea, after both the tea and he have been replicated into existence by Picard.

In the title text, someone tells Picard that they should wait until the Earl has been fully extruded from the dispenser, and then ascertain what he would actually wish to drink. The presumption is that it could obviously take some time to get a full person (living) out of the replicator. However, where the replicator can create other things than food (e.g. spare parts), it is stated in the series that it cannot create living things as the precision of the molecular assembly process is too low (and the dispensing aperture used for the materialisation may also be too restrictive) so this order would certainly not be canonically possible.

Other Words

Word Explanation
Hot A fairly normal word to be used when ordering tea. Although that it even needs specifying is itself a clue that other variations (such as "Iced", below) are available. This is the chosen word of the five words Picard is thinking about in the first drawing. The act of requesting this is thus illustrated, though not of the appearance of the tea itself.
Iced Iced Tea is a 'normal' variation of tea.
Decaf Traditional teas (from Camellia sinensis) tend to have caffeine in them. Asking for decaffeinated tea is not particularly uncommon if the drinker requires it. In the series Picard, set several decades after The Next Generation, Picard does actually order "Tea, Earl Grey, decaf" in one scene.[1]
Good A normal, subjective term. Most people drinking tea would want it to be good, but to specify it like this would perhaps be strange.

This is one of the words in the first drawing, as a listed alternative to Hot.

Lukewarm While this is a temperature that tea can be at, most people do not want their teas to be lukewarm.
Tasty Similar to good, most people would want their tea to be tasty, or at least flavorsome.
Boiled Boiling the water used to make the tea is a common and normal way to increase the flavor and nutrients extracted from the tea leaves, though it is suggested that the actual ideal temperature of hot water is 75-98°C (167-210°F), according to whether it is a light tea or a dark one, and that perhaps it should be sipped at around 65°C/150°F-ish if desired 'hot'.

Having made a tea and then bringing it back to the boil (especially after adding milk/etc) may destroy some of the desirable qualities previously imbued.

Watery Tea is a drink that often involves water, but this perhaps suggests over dilution or under infusion in some way.
Sour Many people do not enjoy a sour taste, which can accompany rot and is a strange thing to specify when ordering Earl Grey tea. Although lemon juice is often an additive used in the same way (but as a complete alternative) to milk.
Meaty Most teas are plant-based.
Solid Tea is usually drunk as a liquid. It would be strange to ask for solid tea.
Dry Tea is a liquid typically made with water and may have milk. A dry version might be either unmade (e.g. tea leaves in their un-infused form) or freeze-dried back into a dehydrated form.

("Dry" can also be used to describe astringent varities of wine or enforced alcohol-free scenarios. For either option, it assumes a default serving with an alcoholic component, or an entirely alternate basis for the beverage, which the request needs to be specify it is not.) This is one of the five words Picard is thinking about in the first drawing.

Raw This describes tea that has not been "cooked", so it would just be tea made with room-temperature water. This is possible but generally takes many hours.
Deep-fried Tea is not usually deep-fried. But you'll probably find someone who has tried it, one way or another.
Sticky Perhaps significantly dehydrated, or thickened with enough of a hydrophilic substance, this would produce something very unlike most teas that would usually be requested.

This scenario is illustrated to show a clearly messy product that awkwardly sticks to and drips from the replicator as well as Picard.

Grilled Tea is not usually grilled.
Fossilized Since tea is a liquid, it would be tricky to figure out how to fossilize it.
Magnetic Tea is not magnetic. Magnetic metals would have to be added to the tea, which would not be pleasant to drink.
Ballistic Usually, the replicated beverage is deposited in a stationary cup, but Picard could ask for it to be dropped or thrown out instead.
Unstable This word is often used to refer to radioactive or explosive materials, which hopefully is not a property that would apply to something meant to be ingested. Alternatively, this could imply that the receptacle into which the tea is delivered should be unstable - being unbalanced, or lacking a flat bottom. This is likely to lead to the tea being spilled.
Blessed Tea is a beverage, and it may be strange to ask a machine to create 'blessed' tea.

In role-playing games, items can be Blessed, i.e. having greater positive or lesser negative effects. This includes potions, a class of drinks that do not usually include any teas but could contain the "potion of water", which may therefore be the basis of this blessed brew.

Blurry Being blurry is not a normal state for tea to have.
Loud While molecules in tea (especially hot tea, and vitally so in an Infinite Improbability Drive) do move vigorously, this does not usually result in distinct audible effects.

However, as illustrated, it seems the requested cup of tea is produced capable of emitting a high-pitched, high-volume whining sound that entirely dominates the vicinity. It actually appears to somewhat vocalise what it is, Teeeee...

Virtual Virtual tea cannot be produced physically, so asking a physical tea machine for it would be very strange.
Intravenous This means the tea would be injected directly into the customer's veins, likely a very painful experience if the tea comes out boiling. Instrument of choice would probably be a tea infuser.
Expanding In a sense, most hot tea is expanding: as the water in the tea evaporates, it becomes much less dense, increasing in "size".

But most people would probably argue that the evaporated water is no longer part of the tea. Water, like most materials, usually expands as it increases in temperature—except between freezing and about 4° C, where it has the unusual property of contracting slightly as temperature increases. If tea behaves similarly despite the extra dissolved compounds, then "expanding tea" would describe any tea between 4° C and boiling point. Possibly beyond, and explosively so, if superheated and then nucleating points are introduced.

Ironic How tea could be ironic is a mystery.
Segmented Tea is usually served in a cup. It tends to stick together and form one liquid. Separating the tea into segments would not be possible.
Verbose This describes using lots of words and language, and would not likely be used for tea, because it cannot speak. Command-line computer programs often run in a 'silent' mode without displaying every step of what happens on the screen. Such programs may have a -verbose parameter that disables the silent mode. As the replicator is run by a computer, the verbose parameter could be applied to the process of tea-making, with the replocator providing an info-dump on the molecular arrangement of the tea, together with the cup of liquid.
Cursed As with "Blessed", above, items can be Cursed in role-playing games, i.e. having greater negative or lesser positive effects; while there are strategic uses for Cursed items, generally the player would prefer uncursed ones (neutral or blessed). Amongst the curseable items are potions, a class of consumables that do not usually include any teas but does contain the "potion of water", which may therefore be the cause of this cursed cuppa.

Cursed items have featured in xkcd previously: 2332: Cursed Chair, 2376: Curbside, and Category:Cursed Connectors.

Unexpected By definition, Picard is asking for tea, expecting it promptly. Perhaps the request for it to be "unexpected" would cause it to be delivered at an unknown time in the future, or to have some alteration.
Bipedal Tea does not walk. This would be a very strange term to use when describing tea.
Afraid Tea does not have feelings. Although water may consider some things to be unpleasant.
Infinite The scope of this request is unclear. It could mean endless production (a steady stream of tea, without obvious limits so long as servicing the request remains practical) or an instantaneous production of an infinite volume of tea (possibly more immediately shown to be flawed in its method of execution). Either could result in an infinitely dense tea (eventually?), but this may no longer be identifiable as tea so might be one of the less practical options, even amongst those on this list.

Indeed, Randall ranks it as the least 'normal', except for just one further named order.

Tea for him, too Earl Grey is a tea blend.

Taken along with the title text, this Replicator order is for "Tea" (not otherwise qualified), a replicated version of the Earl Grey (one or other of those of that name, possibly the 2nd Earl for whom the tea blend was supposedly named) and a second such beverage for him to later drink. See more in the explanation above regarding the title text

Words Picard thinks about in the first drawing, but which where not included as labels on the line
Cold Like Iced tea, asking for cold tea is a relatively normal request.
Pink Earl grey is usually an orange-brown color, not pink.


[At the top of the panel there is a large caption covering two lines with a subcaption below in a normal sized font:]
Other words Captain Picard tried at the end of his tea order before settling on "hot"
From most normal to least
[Bellow this we see Picard, drawn bald except for a bit of hair near his ears and behind his head. He stands next to a machine, that is a standing rectangle of the same dimensions as Picard. In the front there is an opening around the middle, a dispenser from where the ordered items can be retrieved. There is a label at the top of the machine. Picard is giving a command to the machine. His first three words are clearly spoken out as they stand, but then at the end of the sentence, in stead of just adding one more word, there is a list of five words in a column between two gray lines. Five words are visible, but the top and bottom words are fading out, presumably other words are above and below, but no longer visible. All except the middle are gray. The middle word is placed as the direct follow up to the first three words in the sentence Picard speaks out, and this word is black like the previous three words. So this middle word is clearly the one he actually speaks out. The others where options, presumably on his mind.]
Label: Replicator
  Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
[To the left of the machine a long arrow begins snaking it's way to wards the bottom, where it ends in an arrow pointing down towards the bottom of the panel. At the top there is a broad and thick bar from which it start. Beneath this there are several ticks, the first three are close together and on a part of the arrow that goes almost straight down. But then the arrow curves in under the drawing of Picard, and goes over another drawing of him, placed in a captioned frame. The arrow goes around this and up on the other side, where it goes around another drawing of Picard in a similarly captioned frame. After having gone around this frame it goes a bit up before turning almost straight down before the final arrow head that points down. In total there are 36 labeled ticks on the arrow, see labels below. The ticks have very varying distance between them. There are especially long between them around the first panels with Picard, but closer together at the start and towards the very end. Above the top bar from where the arrow starts there is also a label and just below this and to the left of the long arrow is a smaller arrow pointing down in the direction of the long arrow. This small arrow has a label at its starting point.]
Bar label: Normal
Small arrow label: Less normal
[The second drawing of Picard, shows him standing next to the labeled machine. Picard is this time holding a cup, with sticky lines connecting his hands and the machine to the cup. He clearly looks down at the cup rather than on the machine, as the hair behind his ear is turned differently than the first drawing, where he looks straight towards the machine. Above is a label inside a frame overlaid on the top line of the panel, with what Picard ordered:]
"Tea. Earl Grey. Sticky."
Label: Replicator
[The third drawing of Picard, only displays him and not the machine. He is holding a vibrating cup in both hands, and has now turned the other way, away from where the machine was in the previous drawings (again clearly seen by his hair). Very large letters are displayed in three lines behind him to the exclusion of all else. Four of the 15 letters are partly hidden behind the panels frame, and seven of them are partly covered by Picard. Above is a label inside a frame overlaid on the top line of the panel, with what Picard ordered:]
"Tea. Earl Grey. Loud."
Teacup: Teeeeeeeeeeeeee
[Words on the arrow from start to finish:]
Tea for him, too

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...Builders. I mean, Picard is French and Trek(/Randall) is 'Merican but I suspect it would still be a valid option to give the Ready-Room replicator... 23:31, 19 January 2022 (UTC)

In Star Trek: Picard, Picard is seen requesting "tea, earl gray, decaf". 03:33, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I would call for a [citation needed] here. In case you can supply it, put it in the table under defac. --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I put it in with [1] as ref. 14:29, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
But how warm is it? Kev (talk) 20:09, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Presumably infinite tea could be the beverage to accompany Endless Wings. Nitpicking (talk) 03:45, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

This joke should only come on a Tuesday! And I'm annoyed you beat me to it ;-) But at leat I found another infinity joke first 1433: Lightsaber. --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I assumed infinite tea was just a bad pun - as in 'To infinite tea and beyond!' 09:12, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
To infinity and beyond from Toy Story you mean? Good point.--Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I showed it to a friend an their response was: "[In early 20th century England] they added condensed beef stock to their tea for breakfast", so meaty tea is very much a possibility. Then they linked some brand promotional materials for "Vimbos: The Prince of Fluid Beef" and "Vimbos: an ox in a teacup". Because I was just about to sign off for the evening, I'm not going to do the due diligence to research, cite, and edit the main article to reflect this discovery--but I thought it should at least be written here to see if others found it interesting enough to add. Dextrous Fred (talk) 04:21, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Bovril is a standard beef tea 07:40, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Meaty is also a term that could be used to describe robustly flavoured teas, such as an Assam. Not likely to be used for Earl Grey, though. 09:18, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Should be added to the explanation... --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

The concept of iced tea is not normal, especially as Picard is English. Almost but not quite, totally unlike tea. Arachrah (talk) 08:46, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Intravenous tea, on the other hand, is an entirely reasonable request. 09:13, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
But we agree that Icetea is? Could be seen as that. --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Picard is actually natively, and by name, French. Born not far from the Swiss border, his family running a vinyard there. Though he indeed seems to be quite the Anglophile (steadfastly English by accent!) and we don't entirely know how the (re)merging of Europe may have affected cultural and social inheritances on the other side of the Eugenics Wars (and other civilisation-upturning shifts in terran future-history) from where we are now. 12:45, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Are you thinking of Patrick Stewart being English? Kev (talk) 20:09, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Me? (, just above.) Not really. Stewart is from Kirklees (not far from Huddersfield, though an accent or two away), yet unless he consciously drifts back he tends to stick to his professional English voice. But Picard is from eastern France and proud of it, though his accent (when speaking English) is also very... English.
When an episode has him on the Holodeck, at least when he's having fun without some Holodeck-located threat currently happening, he can drift into a Shakespearean bit-part dialect or Film Noir-style American to suit the program running at the time, but Picard's natural tone seems to be quite RP. Obviously proving that the future has developed the near-perfect scenario of traditional French wine being made by those with cut-glass English accents. :-p 20:36, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I kind of think that the explanation should give more emphasis to the fact that the whole comic is basically just a convoluted set-up for the Earl Grey joke. 09:20, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Agree have just added a line to that affect. --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
Disagree that this was the whole purpose. It's a punchline, but not sure it dictated where it was eventually going. That it goes into it twice (least-normal affix and then the titletext) reads more as stumbling to that conclusion rather than carefully aiming at this particular wham-line. But YMMV. 12:50, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I disagree that separating the tea into segments would not be possible. You simply need a segmented mug or cup. That would, though, probably prove difficult to drink, unless he used a straw. 09:28, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

While I'm normally the first to jump in on the [citation needed] joke, that would have to be applied to almost every single line of the explanation, so I propose Not Doing That. I accept criticism and counter arguments --Evidently the unfunny person here (talk) 09:45, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Great, this has been used way too much. It is often not very funny. And in my opinion should really be used only when citation is needed[citation needed] :-p --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I disagree on that last thing, for that we have [actual citation needed] (talk) 12:31, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Could the "infinite" also be a reference to the paperclip maker thought experiment - the replicator will consume the universe to get raw materials and energy to make more and more tea. 10:09, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Definitely a problem with a machine that makes thing out of energy, is that is need lots of energy. --Kynde (talk) 11:22, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I liked "verbose". Most software run from a command line has a "-verbose" or "-v" option which causes it to give more information about what it's doing, usually useful for the purpose of debugging. Rather than providing more information about the tea, I expect that "tea, earl grey, verbose" would result in the replicator giving a step-by-step explanation as it looks up the recipe for tea, selects appropriate raw materials (does it use particles from the air or something?), begins replicating, finishes replicating, and tests that the final product is within normal parameters. Of course, this might mean that the replicator runs more slowly while doing this; which could be useful if he's getting tea as an excuse to take a break from an argument of some kind. Perhaps the replicator even has a 'traditional' tea making mode, where it pauses and describes a more conventional method of tea-making as if there were an invisible chef with a kettle and a teapot somewhere just out of sight. Angel (talk) 11:07, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

What if the countdown is actually to season 2 of [[2]]

Star Trek: Picard (season 2) is set to run from March 3, which both Wikipedia (link before) and IMDb agrees upon så bad to miss by more than a month, and what would the plane in the image have to do with this anyway ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:08, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

How about Jean Lucwarm tea? 00:41, 21 January 2022 (UTC) How about we don't. That is an AWFUL pun! ( which means I wish I had thought of it first 'cause I actually find it hilarious ;^) 11:30, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

I'd like to think that the Earl Grey mentioned at the bottom was CGP Grey as an Earl. Mikeb108 (talk) 18:46, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

I'd imagine there ought to be mention of milk/no milk. Not very funny, granted, but it's a fairly major consideration in the tea-making process, being a standard (or indeed mandatory) ingredient for many consumers. In the case of Earl Grey however it is generally regarded as optional (or perhaps incorrect, by those who have opinions about the propriety of such things), so it's a pretty key variable, and belongs close to the top of the list. Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 11:10, 22 January 2022 (UTC)

That link to season 2 trailer doesn't seem to work. Is that this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feQTh-6M7pc -- Hkmaly (talk) 05:59, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

This page has been vandalized, we need to fix that MysticalMHM (talk) 00:20, 4 May 2022 (UTC)