- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Jellyfish (debut)
- Lavender jellyfish (debut)
- Sandy Cheeks (debut)
- Giant clam (debut)
- Patrick Star
- Birdy (debut)
Out in Jellyfish Fields, SpongeBob is happily jellyfishing. Suddenly, he spots a squirrel in an astronaut suit wrestling with a giant clam. He takes out his field guidebook, and identifies her as a "land squirrel." Believing her to be in trouble after seeing the clam trap her in his mouth, SpongeBob goes to wrestle the clam himself. The squirrel manages to escape the clam, but SpongeBob ends up inside it. The squirrel then rescues SpongeBob and kicks the clam out of sight. SpongeBob introduces himself, and the squirrel says that her name is Sandy.
SpongeBob inquires about the helmet she wears, and Sandy tells him that it's her air helmet and needs it to breathe. SpongeBob says that he loves the air, and the pleasantly surprised Sandy invites him to her treedome for tea and cookies. After bidding Sandy farewell, SpongeBob quickly runs over to his best friend, Patrick, and asks him to explain what air is. Patrick tells him that "putting on airs" is fancy talk, and that holding his pinky finger high above him will make SpongeBob fancy as well.
When SpongeBob arrives at Sandy's treedome the next day, he goes into the entryway with a bouquet of flowers and his pinky aloft. While waiting to be let in, he notices too late that the water inside has been drained. He panics and tries to tell Sandy of the lack of water before taking in the full scope of the air-filled dome. Sandy, sans air helmet, remarks that this environment is quite natural for her, and asks if he has any problem with it. SpongeBob bucks up and lets her lead the way inside, though he struggles to breathe.
Sandy gives him a tour of her treedome, showing him that among other things, she has an oak tree and a birdbath. During her explanation, SpongeBob quickly sneaks over to the birdbath and soaks up its water, much to the bathing bird's displeasure. Patrick knocks on the dome and holds up his pinky to remind SpongeBob of what to do, though SpongeBob has physical difficulty following through.
Sitting at a picnic table under the tree, SpongeBob gives Sandy the flowers. Sandy is very pleased but has trouble prying them from SpongeBob's dry and brittle fingers. She asks SpongeBob if he needs anything, and he weakly replies, "Water would be nice," though Sandy takes this to mean a vase for the flowers and heads off. SpongeBob seizes his chance to flee, but can't pry open the door. Remembering Sandy's kind words and Patrick's advice, SpongeBob hoists his pinky high and disavows his need for water.
SpongeBob arrives back at the table, just in time to see Sandy place the flowers in a vase filled with ice water. Sandy asks SpongeBob to tell her about himself, remarking that being a "sea critter" must be fascinating. However, SpongeBob fails to say anything until the oven dings and Sandy goes to get the refreshments.
SpongeBob, locked in a mental battle for control, stares at the vase of water, the ice cubes floating within it, and the condensation forming on the vase's surface. Finally, he succumbs to his primal urge and guzzles the water down, runs for the door and declares that he is a quitter. Patrick, thinking SpongeBob is being shy around Sandy, quickly enters the dome and tries to convince him to stay. However, Patrick soon sees for himself the effects of a water-less environment. The two struggle to escape the dome and are unsuccessful.
When Sandy comes back, she shrieks as she finds both Patrick and SpongeBob dried up on the grass. She helps them by giving them water-filled helmets and mentions that if they needed water, they should have just asked. Sandy offers a toast to her new friends, but SpongeBob and Patrick are unable to drink the tea from their glasses due to wearing water helmets. Sandy remedies this by placing the tea bags directly into the helmets, allowing SpongeBob and Patrick to drink the tea-filled water with their pinky fingers held high as the episode ends.
|( ‣ ) Associated production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ SpongeBob Closing Theme - Steve Belfer, Nicolas Carr [The opening.]
‣ On Fire - Gregor F. Narholz [Sandy fights a giant clam.]
‣ Death Trap - Gregor F. Narholz [The clam attacks Sandy.]
‣ Charge - ? ["Hold on, little squirrel."]
‣ The Adventure Begins - Jonathan Neal ["You have fought well, giant clam."/SpongeBob continues trying to open the clam.]
‣ Wild Panic 30 - Gregor F. Narholz ["Your shell is mine!"]
‣ Return of the Surfin' Headhunters - The Mel-Tones ["Hold on there, little square dude."]
‣ Moloka'i Nui A - Kapono Beamer [Sandy introduces herself to SpongeBob.]
‣ Heroes Win - Gregor F. Narholz ["Oh, yeah? Watch this!"]
‣ Twelfth Street Rag - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [Sandy invites SpongeBob over to her treedome for tea and cookies.]
‣ Cocktail Lounge - Dick Stephen Walter ["That's just fancy talk."]
‣ Armed Attack 1 - Mladen Franko [SpongeBob bangs on Sandy's door.]
‣ Merlins Hill - Jennifer Jones [Harp music is heard.]
‣ Aloha - Dick Stephen Walter ["Course there's no water."]
‣ Hawaiian Cocktail - Richard Myhill [Sandy gives SpongeBob a tour.]
‣ Hippo's in my Bath - Richard Myhill ["Pinky, pinky!"]
‣ Dead March 2 - Frederic Chopin, Alfred Kluten ["I brought you some flowers."]
‣ Encirclement - Jean Clero ["I gotta get out of here!"]
‣ Merlins Hill - Jennifer Jones ["I like you, SpongeBob."]
‣ Encirclement - Jean Clero [SpongeBob struggles to open the door.]
‣ Cocktail Lounge - Dick Stephen Walter ["When in doubt, pinky out."]
‣ Tribute to the King - Gregor F. Narholz ["I don't need water! Water's for quitters!"]
‣ Action Cut (a) - Gregor F. Narholz ["I don't need it... I don't need it..."]
‣ Kung Fu Saturdays - The Mel-Tones ["I need it!"]
‣ Dramatic Cue (h) - Ronald Hanmer [Sandy sees that SpongeBob and Patrick are dried up.]
‣ You're Nice - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [The ending.]
- This episode is available on the Tales from the Deep, 10 Happiest Moments, Complete 1st Season, The 1st Season: Volume 1, Complete First Season, First 100 Episodes, The First & Second Seasons, Movies & TV Collection, The Best 200 Episodes Ever, and Tea at the Treedome DVDs.
- "Tea at the Treedome" was ranked #97 during the Best Day Ever event on November 9–10, 2006.
- This episode is #17 on Tom Kenny's Top 20 on iTunes.
- An original title card with a different background and font colors can be found on the SuperSponge asset discs. It is the only title card on the discs that does not match its final version. It was never used in the episode or shown on TV.
- This is the first episode produced in 1998, the sister episode "Help Wanted" was made two years prior in 1997.
- On the original airing, the Tales from the Deep DVD and the Deep Sea Sillies VHS releases of this episode, Edgar Larrazábal was credited as the animation director instead of Tom Yasumi. This also happens in early reruns.
- This episode marks the debut of Sandy Cheeks.
- When Sandy and SpongeBob meet, Sandy's tail is missing.
- Sandy's tail is missing throughout the first season when she is in her water protection suit, but every season onward has her tail shown even with her suit on.
- When Sandy says "There's the cookies!" the bell that dings is loud enough as if it was sitting on the picnic table.
- The scene that shows SpongeBob completely dried up from lack of water and tempting not to take the water from the flower vase and eventually saying "I need it!" has become a popular internet meme.
- This is the first episode where SpongeBob and Patrick are shown to dry up without water (and turn into a live-action sponge and sea star).
- The water helmets have two openings in this episode.
- Irony: Sandy tells SpongeBob that if he wanted water, he should have asked, even though SpongeBob did tell Sandy he wanted water.
- Sandy and Patrick are never introduced to each other on-screen in this episode.
- This is the first episode to be a third-episode segment in a 22-minute block.
- This is the first episode to use an under angle (the shot of the drain in the Treedome entrance).
- This is one of the few episodes to have the second door in Sandy's treedome be used.
- In most of the rest of the series, it is just the door that is on the outside of the dome that is used, even though both doors still exist.
- An image of SpongeBob starting to dry out is shown on the protective case of The SpongeBob SquarePants Experience: A Deep Dive into the World of Bikini Bottom.
- A storyboard image also appears on the chapter 1 title page of the book.
- This is the first episode that Doug Lawrence worked on.
- This is the first time where Squidward was absent.
- In the Croatian dub, this episode is called "Čaj na svježem zraku," which translates to "Tea on the fresh air."
- In the French dub, this episode is called "Asphyxies en chaîne," which translates to "Suffocated by string."
- In the Greek dub, this episode is called "Τσάι Στο Θόλο του Δέντρου," which translates to "Tea At the tree's Canopy."
- In the Brazilian Portuguese dub, this episode is called "Chá em terra firme," which translates to "Tea on dry land."
- In Indonesia, instead of saying "I need it!," SpongeBob says "I need water!"
- Sandy reveals that SpongeBob is the first sea creature to enter her treedome.
- This is the first episode to use the APM tracks "You're Nice" and "Moloka'i Nui (a)" and play the "SpongeBob Closing Theme" outside of the ending credits.
- When SpongeBob puts his binoculars away, his teeth turn yellow for one frame.
- When Patrick tells SpongeBob how to be fancy, he lifts his right-hand pinky finger up. From the front view, the pinky is shown on the left side. From the back view, it is shown on the left side instead of the right and looks like SpongeBob is holding up one of his middle fingers instead of his pinky.
- The red light on Sandy's front door where the water gets drained is not there when SpongeBob and Patrick first walk up to the treedome.
- When SpongeBob tries to sneak away to Sandy's birdbath, his sunken-in eyes return to normal until after Sandy leaves.
- The ice cubes in the vase should not be floating and sinking up and down.
- When Patrick tries to open the door to get out, and SpongeBob jumps on his back, his eyes are small dots, but when he falls underneath Patrick, his eyes are back to their original color.
- In the scene where Sandy finds SpongeBob and Patrick dried up, if one goes frame by frame, she lifts up the plate to drop it before a shocked expression is seen on her face.
- SpongeBob and Patrick dry up at the same time, even though Patrick was only there for about a minute.
- Patrick constantly telling SpongeBob to hold up his pinky finger, all just to be fancy.