I’ll never forget the first time I ordered “tea” in Georgia. My drink of choice whenever we go out is always water or tea. I typically ask for tea if I’m in need of a pick-me-up, because tea is caffeinated and doesn’t have extra calories.
But in Georgia—or the South in general—”tea” means something completely different than it does on the West coast. If we (West coasters) want “sweet tea” we simply put our own sugar or spenda in the glass and mix it till it’s as sweet as we like. That’s not how it is here, which is what I very quickly learned the first time I ordered “tea” in Georgia.
When the waitress asked what drinks we would like I ordered “tea” and waited in anticipation. It gets hot down here in the South and I desperately needed something cool to drink. My tea came and I quickly unfurled the straw to get a taste of the iced tea in front of me. But the second it hit my lips I knew something was very, very wrong. The taste that followed lingered and resembled a sugary syrup mixed with a little bit of tea. I’d like to think that the reason I didn’t spit it out right then and there is because I’m a lady and that would just be gross, but the real reason is that I needed to experience what sweet tea actually tastes like.
My husband—we were just dating at the time—was with me and I’m pretty sure he just chuckled and said something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, you need to specify sweet or unsweet tea out here. Sorry I forgot to tell you.” Thanks, babe.
Now, whenever we go out and I order “tea” I very clearly state that I would like “unsweet tea, please.” Of course, some places still get it wrong and I end up with my first sweet tea experience—sugary sour face—all over again.
If you’re reading this in Reader, come on over and click which one you drink!