The Patois of Iced Tea

I was just with my friend from way down south.  We were at a restaurant, and we both wanted tea.  I’m from Colorado, so I ordered iced tea, knowing I would get exactly that…plain tea over ice.

Not my friend.  If she wants plain iced tea, she orders “unsweet tea” (temperature unspecified), only it sounds more like “on-suweyt tay.”  Otherwise, she thinks she will will get tea loaded with sugar, as this is apparently the way tea is served in the South.  This was how the conversation went:

Friend: “Unsweet tea, please.”

Waiter (after a momentary blank stare): “You mean iced tea?”

Friend: “Yes, but I don’t want any sugar in it.”

Waiter: “Um, okay, well, we don’t put sugar in it.  You can do that yourself if you want; there’s sugar on the table.”

I wish I were from the South.  Regardless of how my friend orders her tea, she is far more polite, magnanimous, and socially polished than I could ever hope to be.  She is a modern-day Scarlett O’Hara.


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