Tea is an infusion of dried leaves in boiled water, often with milk and sugar added. Arthur Dent's love of tea and search for a cup of tea was one of the central themes of the Hitchhiker's series.
Many ape descendants such as Arthur enjoyed this beverage. However, computers such as the drinks machine aboard the Heart of Gold did not know why Arthur Dent wanted (or enjoyed) a cup of tea. The reason Arthur Dent gave for liking tea was "it makes me happy."
Following the destruction of the Earth, it took a very long time until Arthur was able to have a genuine cup of tea. It was only due to the plural zone status of the Earth that he was able to enjoy a real cup of tea in his house, although in the Secondary Phase, Zaphod Beeblebrox IV gave Arthur a teapot full of tea. This did not happen in any of the other versions.
The closest mention to tea in the Hitchhiker's series, aside from the drink itself, was the drink produced by the Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser, the computer-based drinks machine onboard the Heart of Gold. It produced something "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea" which Arthur drinks and severely dislikes in every iteration of the Hitchhiker's series. This drink was named Advanced Tea Substitute in the Hitchhiker's video game.
- When the Vogon Construction Fleet was advancing towards Earth, someone from Jodrell Bank decided it would be a nice time for a cup of tea.
- After hitchhiking onto a Vogon ship, Arthur says he feels sick and needs a cup of tea.
- Cups of tea are often used as Brownian Motion producers for both finite and infinite improbability drives.
Behind the scenes
- Tea, along with sympathy and a sofa, is one of the reasons Douglas Adams dedicated his novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to Jonny Brock, Clare Gorst and the other Arlingtonians.