Friends Central

"The One With The Tea Leaves" is the seventeenth episode of the eighth season of Friends, which aired on March 7, 2002.


Things have gone awkward between Joey and Rachel after their date the previous night. Rachel is desperate to get back on good terms with Joey, so she takes Monica's advice to change the subject to something work-related and ask his advice on a problem. However, she can't think of anything to say and ends up blurting out that her boss wants to buy her baby. Joey then goes to Rachel's work and yells at her boss. Rachel panics upon hearing this for the first time, but cheers up when her boss apologizes for inadvertently sounding like he wanted to buy the baby and is so afraid that she will sue that he gives her an extra month of paid maternity leave. However, it becomes awkward between Joey and Rachel again which causes her to blurt out another lie - "my gynecologist tried to kill me!".

When Phoebe reads her own tea leaves, she sees that she'll meet the man of her dreams soon. She assumes it's a guy she has been seeing practically every day on her errands, and finally talks to him. He asks her out despite being slightly bemused when she misunderstands the pretty obvious meaning of a remark he makes but when they go on the date, he intimidates her with a number of highly inappropriate, rude, and vulgar comments, seemingly just to amuse himself. He also claims, most likely lying in yet another attempt to intimidate her, to be a writer of "erotic novels for children" which are "wildly unpopular". Phoebe then has to find a new dry cleaning facility to avoid encountering her abnormal date again, and meets a cheerful gentleman named Parker, who she finds more to her taste.

Ross left his pink (according to him, faded salmon colored) shirt at Mona's apartment. When he knocks on Mona's door, there is no response, but he finds a key and lets himself in. However, Mona and her date enter seconds later. When Mona's date's shirt has wine spilled on it, she offers him Ross' pink shirt. Ross hides behind the couch as the two begin to kiss passionately - when Mona takes off the shirt and tosses it aside, Ross attempts to get it by pulling the carpet, but this causes the table to move and Mona discovers his presence, which causes Ross to take the shirt and leave. Mona shows up at his apartment later, telling him that she knows he came to her apartment because he still has feelings for her but tells him that it is too complicated and that it can never be. When she takes the pink shirt and asks Ross if she can keep it as something to remember him by, he refuses.

Cast and Crew

Main Cast

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Greene
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast

Alec Baldwin - Parker
Steve Ireland - Mr. Zelner
James LeGros - Jim Nelson 
Bonnie Somerville - Mona
Danielle Stratton - Waitress (uncredited)
Mark Lutz - Mona's date


Directed By:
Gary Halvorson

Written By:
R. Lee Fleming Jr. & Steven Rosenhaus


  • Phoebe's date is based off a real boyfriend of one of the creators.
  • This is the final appearance of Bonnie Somerville as Mona in the series.
  • The magazine Ross is reading on his couch before Mona comes by is the magazine he was reading behind the couch in her apartment. In the uncut version, Ross leaves the apartment, but not before taking the magazine from a little table and stalking out the door.
  • The restaurant outside Phoebe's new laundry place was Dot's Spot, the same place Monica went on a date with Chip Matthews in "The One With The Cat" (S4E2).
  • The gray shirt Ross wears as he walks in Central Perk and asks the gang if they have seen his faded salmon shirt shows the hands saying "Friends" in American Sign Language.
  • Monica asks Chandler why the Bruce Springsteen CD is in the Cat Stevens case. Bruce Springsteen is the reason why Courteney Cox became famous. Cox appeared in the 1984 music video for Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" as the young woman pulled onstage at the St. Paul Civic Center to dance with Springsteen. 
  • When Mona knocks on Ross' door, he's placing an order for shirts from the magazine he was reading in Mona's apartment.  


  • Although Phoebe's tea leaf predictions for her and Monica do not come true immediately, it can be argued that they were each fulfilled in "The One With The Pediatrician" (S9E3), where Phoebe meets future husband Mike Hannigan and Monica gets a new job at a higher-class restaurant.
  • In the previous episode (which supposedly takes place a few nights before), when Joey poured out his feelings to Rachel, she barely looked pregnant. Suddenly she looks at least 6-8 months pregnant; in fact, she can barely stand on her feet.


  • Phoebe dates Jim after seeing him everywhere while out on her errands, but finds him so intimidating due to his disturbing and perverted comments that she tells Monica she will never return to any of the places she encountered him. However, he was also a regular customer in the coffee shop, and was seen in there at the beginning of the episode, so logic would suggest that she would avoid going to the coffee shop as well, yet she seemed comfortable going there without having to worry about him in later episodes, but the reason for this is never revealed. It is however possible that he may have been scared away by her friends.
  • Phoebe reads the gang's tea leaves to tell their fortunes. But a coffee house like Central Perk is unlikely to offer a lot more than basic Lipton sachets - certainly not loose tea leaves.
  • Monica's Kitchenaid stand-mixer in this episode is pink, where in the last episode and many others, the mixer is yellow.
  • Alec Baldwin appears near the end of this episode as the character Parker. In "The One With Rachel's Crush" Ross mentions Alec Baldwin, meaning he exists on Friends. Yet no one notices Parker as Alec or mentions the striking similarity in appearances. This is another celebrity paradox (one of many to occur throughout the last few seasons).
  • When Rachel is looking for Joey, the door in the apartment is first open, then closed, then open again.
  • Rachel says her boss (Mr. Zelner) and his wife can't have children. When Ross visits him to get Rachel's job back, he uses Mr. Zelner's son Ross as a bargaining chip. But this isn’t an actual goof as she was lying to create a conversation with Joey.
  • While Ross is hiding behind Mona's couch when she comes home with her date, there is no logical way she would not be able to see him, even taking into consideration the usual suspension of disbelief required to watch a television sitcom. When taking the shirt from the closet, the back of the couch is in full view, and she would easily be able to see Ross' legs. When handing the shirt to her date, Ross' head is clearly above the couch arm rest, and Mona is standing, so would also easily be able to see him.
  • While Rachel is talking to Chandler and Monica at the start of the episode, Chandler goes from having a yellow mug in his left hand, to a bagel and back to the mug rapidly between shots. Indeed the mug returns to the same position every time it's not in his hand.


External links

Episode Navigation

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Preceded by
"The One Where Joey Tells Rachel"
Season Eight Episodes Followed by
"The One In Massapequa"