It was in episode 4 of House of the Dragon that we saw Rhaenyra Targaryen having sex for the first time in her life when she ended up sleeping with Ser Criston Cole after spending the night out in King’s Landing with Daemon Targaryen. Of course, the rumors regarding her and Daemon began spreading, and that meant that Viserys needed to quiet them down by having the Grand Maester give her something to drink. So, what is the moon tea that Viserys gave to Rhaenyra?
Moon tea is a natural substance that was made to prevent and abort pregnancies. This tea is composed of natural ingredients that include tansy, mint, wormwood, a spoonful of honey, and a drop of pennyroyal. When used right away, it has the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
In a way, you can think of moon tea as the medieval version of Plan B (a contraceptive pill) for the world of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. That’s because not everyone at that time wanted to get pregnant after having sex. In that regard, they needed to be able to find a way to concoct a medicinal drink that could help prevent pregnancies, and that’s what moon tea is for.
What Is The Moon Tea That Viserys Gave To Rhaenyra?
One of the biggest moments in House of the Dragon came in episode 4 when Princess Rhaenyra went out with Prince Daemon to explore King’s Landing. We saw them entering a pleasure house, wherein they were both aroused to the point that they almost had slept together right then and there. But because Daemon changed his mind at the very last moment, Rhaenyra was left hung and dry.
As such, the princess had to pleasure herself by seducing Ser Criston Cole, to who she was clearly attracted. Rhaenyra lost her maidenhood to her sworn shield, as that was the moment when things got complicated for her and her family. Neither she nor Daemon knew that Otto Hightower had spies everywhere and that one of these spies reported to him that he found the princess with the prince out in the pleasure house.
So, with that, Otto brought the matter to King Viserys, who was quick to try to find a way to remedy the situation by confronting both Daemon and Rhaenyra on separate occasions. Daemon confessed to the deed (even though he never had sex with Rhaenyra), while Rhaenyra lied to both Alicent and her father about losing her maidenhood. With both parties clearly lying, Viserys had no choice but to make sure that the situation was remedied right away.
After Rhaenyra had agreed to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, Grand Maester Mellos visited her in her chambers and brought a tea that Viserys ordered him to give to her. Of course, this wasn’t as subtle as Viserys hoped it would be because Larys was aware of this fact and even brought it to Queen Alicent, who was quick to doubt Rhaenyra’s word once more. But what exactly was this tea?
Called moon tea, this natural substance is one that the maesters are trained in when they learn the art of creating different medicinal substances and drinks while they are in the Citadel. George RR Martin even talked about the nature of this drink on a website where he answered some questions.
Moon tea is a substance that is made with tansy, mint, wormwood, a spoonful of honey, and a drop of pennyroyal. According to his research, Martin said that tansy and pennyroyal are natural abortifacients that can kill when they are used incorrectly by anyone who learns what they are and what they can do. That is why he decided to mix the concoction up with a lot of different ingredients and created the drink called “moon tea” to make sure that anyone reading his works wouldn’t try tansy and pennyroyal out.
So, in a sense, moon tea is created by a maester to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As the Grand Maester himself said when he gave the tea to Rhaenyra, the tea was made for “unwanted consequences,” and that meant that Viserys was making sure that his daughter didn’t get pregnant after that night out with Daemon and Criston.
In a way, moon tea is like a medieval Plan B, which is a contraceptive pill that was made to prevent any unwanted pregnancies right after having sex. People in the world of Martin’s writings would want to find a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, especially because not everyone wants to get pregnant after sex. As such, the maesters were able to find a natural way to abort any unwanted pregnancies, and that is what moon tea is for.
Did Ser Criston Get Rhaenyra Pregnant?
While Viserys did have doubts regarding whether or not Rhaenyra was telling the truth, he made sure to quell his doubts by giving her the moon tea. That’s because Daemon himself admitted to the act, even though we all know that he never had sex with Rhaenyra. Instead, it was Ser Criston who slept with her—something that only Queen Alicent knows. So, does that mean that Criston got Rhaenyra pregnant?
We don’t know for sure whether or not Rhaenyra got pregnant after having sex with Ser Criston during the night when she went out with Daemon. All we know is that she doesn’t have any unwanted children with him, considering that, after the ten-year time skip, all of her children were sired by Ser Harwin Strong (even though Ser Laenor was the “father”).
What that means is that either the moon tea did its magic by aborting Rhaenyra’s child or that the princess didn’t even get pregnant at all. But the moon tea had a more lasting effect due to Larys Strong learning about the fact that the Grand Maester gave it to Rhaenyra.
It was when Larys, a rumor-monger, learned of this truth and told it to Alicent that the queen was able to learn from Ser Criston that they did indeed have sex. As such, the moon tea, whether or not Rhaenyra was pregnant, may have helped her but its effects eventually led to Alicent forever holding a grudge against her former best friend, as it was the knowledge that Rhaenyra lied and betrayed her that made her wage war against the heir to the Iron Throne.
And as we all know, it is this personal war between the two women that led to the Dance of the Dragons, which is a war wherein Alicent’s camp fought against Rhaenyra’s faction for the chance to sit on the Iron Throne.