Concrete information about the button is slim. According to Business Insider, “The call button is meant to be used to summon an aide whenever a president needs something.” But the uses can get quite cheeky. Some reports say it was used to alert President Johnson when his wife was on the way.
The duo shared lunch one day in the Oval Office, after which Obama clued Branson in.
“As we stood up to leave I noticed the red buttons on his desk. Obama saw me looking at them,” Branson wrote. “He said, ‘They used to be there for emergencies, but now I use them for ordering tea for my guests.’”
Obama’s love for tea is well documented. Those close to the former president have said he eschews coffee ― or at least did while he was in office ― and it’s been reported that he has a penchant for Honest Tea, especially the Black Forest Berry flavor. Obama told Vox in 2015 that he reads his morning briefings with tea.
“It’s tea!” Obama responded, according to the Boston Globe.