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JLeslie's avatar

Southerners: if I ordered a regular iced tea, what do you think I want?

Asked by JLeslie (47096 points ) December 30th, 2011

Here in the south there is almost always unsweet and sweet tea available. Today I ordered a regular iced tea not really thinking about how I worded it, and they gave me a sweet tea. When I pointed out it was sweet, the guy said to him sweet is regular.

Not to mention I think the terms unsweet and sweet are a bad way to go, because sometimes unsweet sounds like sweet in a noisy place. Why not use two words that sound nothing alike?

Up north there is tea, and then there is flavored tea and sweetened tea, etc.

Anyway, I don’t know if it was just this young gentleman who thinks regular is sweet, or if most southerners, and maybe others, think regular means sweet also? I was curious, so I asked the question.

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19 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

You could always order it “black and bitter, the way I like my men”. But I guess that might get you in trouble with your husband, even if could pass muster in some parts of the South.

I think “regular” is a pretty silly way to order almost anything. And I used to use “regular” gasoline, too, which meant “with lead added”.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Regular iced tea means sweet tea in the South, so that’s what I would assume you wanted.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire I’m willing to accept it is just a regional thing, but it makes no sense to me since you need to add the sugar to make it sweet. But, regional things don’t always make sense.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie But “regular” means something like “default” in this context. In the South, the standard recipe for iced tea includes the sugar. It’s like regular candy versus sugar-free candy.

JLeslie's avatar

Regular gas was leaded, and unleaded was unleaded. I think the whole country used that terminology?

A regular coke is the real original thing, and the diet is the fake stuff.

It seems to me when something is altered, added, substituted, or subtracted, that is when it is no longer regular.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire Yeah, I can see your point. Like I said it is a regional thing. Default up north is unsweet.

I swear I don’t know how people can stand that sweet tea. It’s soooo sweet. But, then, I love Coca Cola, and that has tons of sugar too.

JLeslie's avatar

Regular coffee and decaf. The decaf is the altered product, you have to take out the caffeine.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie I’m a transplant from New York to Virginia, so I’ve lived with both being the default. I don’t understand sweet tea, either; but to each his own.

jazmina88's avatar

I would have given you sweet tea as well.
I’m diabetic and think differently and quake in fear that they will give me sugar in a soda by mistake.
Regular tea is what non diabetics drink.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I order plain or regular tea, and I get unsweetened tea. Good to know, if I’m ever in the south.

prasad's avatar

Here, regular tea is same as tea with sugar (2 tea spoons of sugar per cup).
Other tea is called tea without sugar. Diabetes patients usually order this.

You may order like tea with less sugar or more sugar as desired. Or you can also ask for separate sugar and dissolve as much as you want by stirring it with spoon.

To sound both these terms differently, you may order ”sweet tea” and ”tea without sugar” or ”tea with less sugar”.

JLeslie's avatar

@prasad Here they just ask you sweet or unsweet.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t understand how people can drink it. I love tea, and though I prefer it unsweetened.. I can drink it with a bit of sugar or honey. Southern style tea, to me, is like ipecac. It’s so sweet that it makes me feel sick.

prasad's avatar

@JLeslie Tricky. You have difficulty wording in noisy places only, do you? I mean, not that noisy places are fine for you then. For this you can work around by nodding. Say, you want to order 2 sweet and 1 unsweet teas. You can say 2 sweet teas, at same time pointing two fingers like victory and nodding your head up and down (vertically). And, say 1 unsweet tea, again at same time, showing 1 finger (index finger hopefully!) and nodding sideways (horizontally).

I wonder if it is related to geography or climatic conditions. Apparently, northern people in India where temperatures are relatively low drink tea with relatively less sugar. People in south, where temperatures are relatively higher, drink tea with relative more sugar. Also where I live (mid west India, but not coastal area), people prefer sweet tea.

JLeslie's avatar

@prasad It’s usually not a big deal. Just this time I happen to order a regular tea not thinking. When I wound up with the sweet, the guy pointed out I said regular, he was right, usually I know to say unsweet down here. I just found it odd that regular is perceived as sweet, but down in the southern US I guess that is how it is according to these answers.

marinelife's avatar

Sweet tea with lemon.

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

Here in the Southern U.S. regular tea is sweet tea…..if you want unsweetened tea it is best to clarify when ordering.

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie as you know up her in the northern Midwest, if you order iced tea, it will come to you unsweetened. If you want sweetened tea, you use the sugar packets on the table and sweeten it to your liking.

@prasad You may be on to something there with the cold climate/unsweetened and warm climate/ sweetened. Hmm…

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma Growing up I am not even sure all restaurants offered iced tea? Or maybe I was such a coca-cola drinker I never noticed. I was having a conversation with a teenager raised about 30 minutes north of Memphis, we were in Indiana at a race, and he could not believe there wasn’t any sweet tea to be found in restaurants or fast food.

The south does tend to be sweet oriented from what I understand. Sweeter drinks, candy, cake, etc. Just look at red velvet cake. My mom’s response to that cake is, “that is not chocolate cake.” Hahaha.

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