Do astronauts add hot water to a packet that contains a bag with real tea leaves or is it dry tea powder?

If they use real tea leaves, what would be the water temperature for the brewing?

To get the best results on Earth, it is commonly advised to brew green tea at ~75 deg C, and black tea at 90-95 deg C.

Is water at 95 deg C available on ISS, or maybe it will be too hot to cool down in a reasonable time for drinking (since there's no open liquid surface and no convection)?

So, how do they do this?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ theguardian.com/media/2015/dec/14/… $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Dec 17, 2019 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @JCRM thank you for the link. The story in the link you provided doesn't seem to mention the brewing temperature. Also, was it one-off case when those improved bags were provided, or is it common practice now? $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2019 at 9:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ the source of hot water is the espresso machine which operates at 94c (but may have other temperatures) $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Dec 17, 2019 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ The brewing temperature wouldn't change just because they are in space. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Dec 17, 2019 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ "Space, the final frontier..." $\endgroup$
    – smci
    Dec 18, 2019 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


The water temperature for restoring products, making tea and coffee is different: + 85˚ С or from + 25˚ С to + 42˚ С - depending on what the cosmonaut has on the menu. Hot water is used mainly for the preparation of drinks, first and second courses, warm - for salads and snacks. To have lunch, the cosmonaut cuts the packet along the colored line, gently fills it with the required portion of water and shakes it. It doesn’t matter that in the package - vegetable soup, pasta with mushrooms or juice - the process of “cooking” is the same.

Температура воды для восстановления продуктов, приготовления чая и кофе разная: +85˚ С или от +25˚ С до +42˚ С — смотря что у космонавта в меню. Горячую воду используют в основном для приготовления напитков, первых и вторых блюд, тёплую — для салатов и закусок. Чтобы пообедать, космонавт надрезает пакет по цветной линии, аккуратно наполняет требуемой порцией воды и встряхивает. Не важно, что в пакете — овощной суп-пюре, макароны с грибами или сок, — процесс «готовки» одинаков.

Космический быт. Где вода, там и жизнь. Столовый этикет в космосе // Cosmic life. Where there is water, there is life. Table etiquette in space

Video: How to heat food at the space station


Невесомый вкус: из чего состоит повседневное меню космонавтов // Weightless taste: what the cosmonauts daily menu consists of

За стеклом — чайная церемония. Тихо, стерильно. В ловких женских руках сотрудниц Бирюлевского экспериментального завода чайные пакетики облачают в прозрачную упаковку будто бы с «ушами» — «непроливайку». Она же у космонавтов и стакан, и тарелка.

In this photo behind the glass is a tea ceremony. Quiet, sterile. In the dexterous female hands of employees of the Biryulevsky experimental plant, tea bags are wrapped in transparent packaging, as if with “ears” - “spill-free”. This packaging for cosmonauts has both a glass and a plate.

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Even in space, Elena Olegovna Serova did not change her earthly habit - to drink tea with milk every day. Technologists are still amazed at how she mixed the drink in freeze-dried packaging. Даже в космосе Елена Олеговна Серова не изменяла земной привычке — каждый день пить чай с молоком. Технологи до сих пор удивляются, как она смешивала напиток в сублимированной упаковке.

By the way, the higher from the Earth, the more bizarre taste sensations. So, having ordered sweet tea on Earth, some cosmonauts did not feel the sweets at all, and the next time they refused this undertaking. Кстати, чем выше от Земли, тем причудливее вкусовые ощущения. Так, заказав еще на Земле сладкий чай, некоторые космонавты сладости совсем не ощущали и уже в следующий раз от этой затеи отказывались.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer! In the first provided link there is a photo of the actual "space tea cup" labeled "tea without sugar", which leads to another question: is there an option of a tea bag to be pre-filled with sugar for those who prefer sugar in their tea? $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2019 at 11:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LeoS Added a quote about mixing drinks and sugar in tea. $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Dec 17, 2019 at 11:36

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