28 January 2015

Hot tea and other blunders

I realized today I make a consistently American request. I've lived in Europe for the better part of 10 years on and off. My significant other and I joke about being Euro trash but really we are contented expats who still like "Home" too.

But while I know I shouldn't care, I pride myself on often blending in. I like to eat like the locals and go places like locals etc. So how after so many years did I realize I keep ordering incorrectly on airplanes?

I ask for hot tea. Every time. Now, my US compatriots are possibly saying, "Yeah, so?" While my British friends are laughing at me. 

In the US, we have lovely BREWED ice tea. (I am an admitted tea-sob.) This is real tea (nothing powdered please) brewed mostly hot, but there are new cold brews, then it's served on ice. In the south this comes with a bucket of sugar in it. I don't like my tea sweet though. So in the US, it's not uncommon to hear an order like, "I'll have an sweet ice tea." 

I am a habitual daily hot tea drinker because I like it and I don't drink coffee. So I must specify what I want. I realized in Europe there is only (where I frequent) tea that is hot, no need to specify. There is a product in a can called "Nestea" and it is dreadful and bears no resemblance to tea in my snobby opinion,  but there are lots of people who love it. It is very sweet but it still does not taste like USA southern sweet tea. 

All of that to realize that I always say "hot tea" and that always marks me as -- not from around here. I don't care necessarily but to suddenly notice after so many years is interesting, like discovering a birthmark you didn't know about.

Now that I think about it, I was at a conference and I remember one of my British friends sort of mocking my "hot tea" request with a raised questioning eyebrow. I loftily pointed out the US custom of icing it. 

I think the same friend felt my using hot water from the faucet (the tap!) to fill my water bottle in hotels was also a faux paus of social norms. 

Clearly I will always carry my uncouthness with me as I drink my hot tea and snuggle my mediocrelly warm water bottle, but I'm having fun and trying not to be cold. Next flight I will try with all my might to order. Tea. Just tea and see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that that could be a faux pas. I would be in a constant state of uncouth if I were to leave the States, I think.

    You mention Nestea, and I'm sure I used to get that from a break room vending machine at a job I had in high school. If it's the same stuff, you're right that it isn't anywhere near as good as true sweet tea. I was always torn whether I liked or hated the stuff.