In The Big Bang Theory episode, “The Middle Earth Paradigm,” Leonard is upset after being humiliated at Penny’s Halloween party. Sheldon doesn’t always know how to act when things take a turn for the worse, so his instinct is to make a hot beverage. Throughout the show’s 12 seasons, whenever someone is in emotional distress, Sheldon mentions making a hot beverage to soothe their troubles.
It’s assumed he learned this lesson from Mary Cooper, who also told Sheldon to make a hot beverage for Raj when he was drunk. Among Sheldon’s many quirks, his desire for calming people down with hot drinks like tea and cocoa are endearing. It’s a softer side of Sheldon that isn’t seen often.
If You’re Upset & A Friend: Tea
The gang drinks tea after a long day or in the mornings before work in most episodes. However, viewers will also see Sheldon giving someone tea if they’re upset or crying.
In one episode, Penny is upset after she found out Leonard cheated on her and decided to confess on the night of their wedding. Sheldon — who was also suffering heartbreak — brought over a tray with tea and honey for her woes. But Penny’s not the only one who gets tea when they’re feeling low. According to Sheldon, as long as they’re an invited friend, they deserve a mug of tea.
If You’re Upset & A Guest: Hot Chocolate
Not everyone is qualified for tea in Sheldon’s life. If he’s unfamiliar with a person or they were not invited over, Sheldon’s go-to beverage of choice for them is hot cocoa.
In the episode “The Cohabitation Formulation,” Howard is torn between staying with his mother who needs him or moving in with Bernadette. He stopped by Sheldon and Leonard’s after an argument with Bernadette because he didn’t know where else to go. Sheldon is appalled when he learned that Leonard didn’t offer him tea but considering Howard wasn’t formally invited, Sheldon switched the hot beverage of choice to hot cocoa. Sheldon also drank hot cocoa himself when Caltech wouldn’t let him switch his field of study because he was “outraged.”
If You’re Angry & Need To Unwind: Hot Apple Cider
With tea and hot cocoa being for times of emotional discomfort, what does Sheldon offer when someone’s angry? In the “Cooper/Kripke Invasion,” Sheldon is angry when he has to join forces with Barry Kripke for work. He sat at home listening to sad music with a blanket over his head until Leonard and Penny came home.
When Leonard offered Sheldon tea, Sheldon reminded him that tea is only for when he’s upset; hot cocoa was the only option for his anger. But when Sheldon switched gears and said he was no longer angry, he was outraged, Leonard stopped what he was doing and made hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks because that’s what Sheldon drinks when he’s “filled with despair.”
If You’re Drunk As A Skunk: Coffee
Sheldon is one of the only characters in The Big Bang Theory who doesn’t drink coffee. He considers caffeine to be a drug and he promised his mother he wouldn’t get hooked on drugs when he moved to California. However, there are rare moments where he drinks coffee to stay awake for a project.
As a host, Sheldon serves coffee when someone is “drunk as a skunk.” In the fifth season, Mary Cooper is visiting Sheldon and is disturbed when she finds a drunk Raj waiting for them to get home. She reminds Sheldon to make him a hot beverage but when he starts making tea, Mary reminds him that Raj isn’t upset, he’s drunk. This forces Sheldon to make coffee instead.
If You’re Raj: English Tea Or Chai Tea
Sheldon’s ignorance is often ignored by his friends because they know he doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just socially awkward and doesn’t understand what’s inappropriate.
In one episode, Raj is at Sheldon’s apartment sulking over Emily. Sheldon begins gathering ingredients to make Raj chai tea but panics when he doesn’t have cardamom seeds. He decides to make English breakfast tea instead because of England’s close relation to India. Raj ignores Sheldon’s inept decision and that’s the last time viewers heard Sheldon offer English breakfast tea.
If You’re Sad: Chicken Bouillon
One could say that “sad” and “upset” are under the same umbrella and that tea should be served for either emotion. Nevertheless, Sheldon has offered chicken bouillon (or chicken broth) on two occasions.
In “The Stag Convergence,” Howard is sad when Bernadette threatens to call off the wedding because of his seedy past. Sheldon was going to offer him tea but decided to offer chicken broth because it seemed “culturally appropriate.” Sheldon does the same thing in “The Wildebeest Implementation” for Raj when he’s thrown out of his apartment by Leonard and Priya. Sheldon was going to offer him tea but opted for chicken bouillon instead because that’s all they had.