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Does anyone ever order hot water with lemon?

  • h

...instead of, say tea? and if you do, do you expect it to be free? Just curious. I went for lunch with some friends and someone ordered that, and asked for honey, too. I though it was a little weird. The restaurant didn't charge for it, BTW.

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  1. Yep. People order hot water with lemon quite frequently. And, no, I don't know of any places that charge for it. In my area of the world, (kind of crunchy), people order it because they believe that warm water with lemon aids in digestion, or at least that cold water is bad for digestion. Not so sure about the honey though. Maybe to make the water taste better.

    1. When I waited tables back in the day..I used to get so pissed because it was a huge pain in getting hot water but to not charge for it and run around for it..wtf.
      There should be a charge..

      2 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Is it really that difficult to get hot water? Not trying to be rude...just wondering.

        1. re: xena1441

          I don't think it;s any more or less difficult than getting a cup of tea. It's an 'equal labor' event. I thnk that tipping, to a large degree, should be based on the actions/labor of the Server, not just on a % of the bill. SInce I feel that it's the same labor to carry a cup of hot water or a pitcher of iced lemon water as it is to carrry a cup of tea, or a pitcher of soda, so I tend to factor that 'imaginary' cost into my tip.
          Same goes for '2 for1' or 'Buy one get 2nd at half price' dinners. When figuring the tip, I do so based on what the full cost of the meal would be
          w/o the dinner discounts.

      2. Charge or not, yes, I've ordered it. Usually if I'm dieting or detoxing. I drank copious quantities of this before a **ahem** delicate medical procedure last year.

        1. It's sort of like the hot water version of "Boca Lemonade" If I wanted hot water, lemon and honey I'd just ask for an herbal teabag on the side, and not use it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Tay

            yes Tay it's hot Boca Lemonade! I think there should be a nominal charge, it's as much work for a server as bringing tea - usually because the hot water and lemon brigade send the server back for more lemons and more hot water, and, lemons these days are very expensive. It is still a cost to the restaurant.

            1. re: Tay

              Yeah, that was why I thought it was weird. I'm sure the charge for tea is not based on the 10 cent teabag, so if I wanted the pot of hot water, the cup & saucer, the spoon, the lemon and honey I'd just order tea (the teabag always comes on the side). It just never occured to me to just order hot water with lemon and honey, and I'd never seen anyone else do it. Seems like I'm just sheltered :)

              1. re: hsk

                Many restaurants serve it with the tea bag already immersed in the cup, or they serve it in small metal tea pots with the tea bag already in the water.That's why it's just better to cover all bases and specifically request the tea bag on the side :-}

                1. re: Tay

                  Tay, thanks the info. I'm not a huge tea drinker (I prefer coffee if I'm not having something stronger), but I'd always understood that tea was prepared by pouring hot water OVER the teabag. Which is why the teabag is always on the side (at least AFAIK in Canada).

                  1. re: hsk

                    My pleasere to share information :-} I'm only going by what I've observed. The whole teabag already in the hot water pot may be some sort of attempt to 'steep' (I hope that's the correct spelling)
                    In some restaurants, I've actually been served pots of tea with loose tea in a mini strainer or 'tea bal'... Some places that serve a proper Afternoon Tea, will do that. It's something different and fun :-}

            2. Yes and I've never been charged for it. Usually I'll order it when I've had a long dinner and my DC(s) order coffee/tea/dessert which I often skip. So I'll get some hot water with lemon while my DCs enjoy their beverages.

              1. At home I drink mug after mug of hot water all evening long. But I have never and would never order it in a restaurant because I don't want to be a "special" customer. And I'm sure this is going to turn into another tipping thread so let me get the ball rolling: $2 MINIMUM tip per mug of free hot water, $3 with lemon, $5 in New York City, $10 if you get it as room service.

                10 Replies
                1. re: DeppityDawg

                  Asking for a cup of hot water with lemon does not constitute being a "special" customer (I am assuming here that you are using special to mean high-maintenance).

                  If I've had a meal of cocktail, app, entree, and wine I have NO problem asking for some hot water with lemon while my friends drink coffee and/or eat dessert.

                  1. re: heathermb

                    You may not agree, but you will be labeled as such.

                    It's just such an odd request that, even though it seems normal to you, always makes restaurant people scratch our heads. WHY would someone want a mug of hot, acidic water with the faint bitter taste of lemon? ~Cringe~

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      My grandpa had a mug of hot water every mornign with breakfast - no lemon, though. The waitresses thought he was odd, but I doubt they charged for it (Kansas, people).
                      It was for digestive reasons, he thought. Don't know if it's true but he lived to be 95.!

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        None of the restaurants in which I've worked has this been an issue. In fact, at one of the seafood shacks, bringing someone hot water with lemon was infinitely easier than having to deal with the added hassle making desserts.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          I'm smiling b/c I always feel that way about people who order those killer after dinner drinks, like heavy ports. Why would they drink those lethal tasting liquids? I guess it's an 'Eye (mouth) of the beholder" sort of thing.
                          I agree that it seems an odd beverage of choice which is why I I think people should just order tea with lemon and request the tea bag on the side. That also lets the server know they intend to pay/tip, on the request. :-}

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            I work as a bartender and I do not consider it to be weird or high-maintenance to order hot water with lemon. I do not charge for hot water and lemon, or plain soda water.

                            1. re: hot breath

                              Maybe on the West Coast it's not odd, but here it'll get you a raised eyebrow every time.

                        2. re: DeppityDawg

                          DeppityDawg, I hope you're not serious here. You're valuing a mug of hot water at $10? (based on 20% tip).

                            1. re: excuse me miss

                              We'll never know, because now he will be too embarrassed to own up to it if he wasn't kidding. Haha, can you guess who I am? I mean, who he… is…? (ooh, this is harder than DeppityDawg thought)

                        3. This is an activity performed by my 86 year old mother and her friends. Hot or cold. So they don't have to pay for a beverage.

                          It makes me insane.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Felixnot

                            Many years ago I worked at an Applebee's, I hated my life. We had a regular group of folks who would come in and order ice water with "tons of lemons". They would then squeeze the lemons into their water, making a huge mess, and proceed to use the sugar caddy on the table to make "lemonade".

                            This drove me nuts.

                            1. re: jpc8015

                              You may have been waiting on my grandfather.......

                              Having spent time as a server in my younger years, I have zero tolerance for cheapskates.

                          2. It isn't real common, nor is it particularly uncommon. As a former server, it really wasn't a big deal to bring out. Not going to worry about loss of a tip on the price of a cup of tea...life's short. If hot water with lemon makes them happy, thats what you are there for. I've never worked anywhere that charged for this. Just 'cos thats what they want doesn't make them high maintenance! FYI, every few years this gets a lot of press as the thing to drink 10 minutes prior to a meal to aid in weight loss. As a server you don't even have to look at the news-stand to know the idea was just printed again!

                            1. Somewhat off-topic, but there were stories at the University of Missouri that students would order hot water (at no charge) and add ketchup for "tomato" soup. Don't know if the stories are true or not.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: lgss

                                that's a very old homeless person's technique. i don't mind when homeless people mix ketchup & hot water to keep warm & somewhat nourished for free.

                                for most people, it's hot boca lemonade--something that can be tolerated in small doses-- but it should be charged for in areas where there are lots of retired folks. . . :)

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  I went out for dinner last night and there was a printed card on the table that suggested donating $1 for water served. This would be sent to some sort of fund called TAP, via UNICEF, which is supplying fresh drinking water to children in other countries who do not have fresh water available.I think that would be a wonderful idea for all those Boca Lemonaders :-}

                                  1. re: Tay

                                    hey i have never seen that before. hmm. kinda cool in my book-- though i'd imagine many people would throw a hissy if anyone suggested what could be construed as a "water charge"--

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      Probably true. It did stress that it was a voluntary thing and if anyone wanted to donate the $1 they could just add it to their check or if cash, place it in an official UNICEF cannister in the front of the Mgr's 'podium' (What is that thing called anyway?)
                                      I contributed and asked the Hostess if there was any feedback from customers and she said, almost all the customers had commented that it was a good idea and contributed but some wondered why it was being done for people living in other countries and not for impoverished people in the US. She said she didn't want to get into any sort of discusssion that might upset customers so she just told them she didn't know why.
                                      Personally, I don't have a problem paying for anything that requires a server's time and effort and a restauranr's resources so I'd have no problem paying a nominal charge for water with lemon regardless of where the money was going. There is no difference in labor for a server to lug a pitcher of lemon water or Coke to my table, (his/her wrist doesn't know the difference) so there should be some compensation for the server and the restaurant. I do like the idea of donating to a fund that (hopefully) provides water:Something most of us take for granted

                                      1. re: Tay

                                        agree with all your points Tay. i think the restaurant or unicef should provide some literature (with pics) to answer faqs about the water donations so that customers don't feel like they're throwing money at an intangible target-- so to speak. i like the idea of this water contribution & agree that it gets people to think about what "free" means in this world where we take so much for granted.

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          In fact there was literature, but interestingly enough, the Hostess was told not to hand it out unless someone asked if they had anything. She said the owners are willling to support the effort, but don't want to make their customers feel 'guilty' or uncomfortable that they are enjoying a full dinner with pictures of"thirsty people around them"( Her words)

                                          1. re: Tay

                                            hmm. well i guess i could see not wanting to guilt the customers too, i suppose. i wonder how much money/impact this one restaurant will have over the course of a year with this effort. thanks for the food for thought, Tay. :)

                                  2. re: soupkitten

                                    Joe Buck(John Voight) in "Midnight Cowboy" setting in a New York dine getting a cup of hot water, crushing some crackers in the water and then addding massive amounts of ketchup....

                                    1. re: Hue

                                      Hue... Great scene... Very poignant. On the other end of the scale...
                                      I remember seing some compliation of funny movie scenes and some young guy on Spring Break,who was obviously w/o money, sat down at a lunch counter, ordered some hot water,(I think maybe he had his own tea bag, or just asked for lemon) and took the complimentary crackers on the counter and made himself a "cracker and ketchup" sandwich.... The Counterman's facial expresssion was priceless. :-}
                                      Apparently, ketchup is the 'Go To' condiment

                                  3. re: lgss

                                    Being a KU grad, I don't doubt the Mizzou stories.

                                  4. hot water with lemon is supposed to aid in digestion.

                                    when i worked in a restaurant that had a large Asian clientelle, many, many, many of them would order hot water with lemon, usually before the meal.

                                    1. Three generations of drinking hot water and lemon. No problem ordering in restaurants. Never a negative response from servers. Sometimes we drink without the lemon. Have it daily. Love it!

                                      1. > Does anyone ever order hot water with lemon?
                                        on a slightly different note ... and time zone ... a "hot lemon" is a standard
                                        offering at ever tea house in the himalaya. keeps you warm, lots of sugar,
                                        no caffeine. depending on which kind of green you care about, cheaper and
                                        more enviro than beer, coke, etc.

                                        i cant say i've ever had one below 5000ft.

                                        re: pricing/tipping ... if i got charged for this [i thin it would be reasonable to
                                        be charged a buck, or sothing appropriate to the venue], i'd tip on the price ...
                                        if i wasnt charged, i'd probably up the tip by a buck in appreciation.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: psb

                                          I used to order it all the time when I was studying in northern Germany. It was a regular menu item and cheap but not free. I have no problems ordering it in the U.S. and paying for it.

                                        2. Ok has anyone seen the movie Fatso? - there is an entire scene in it about hot water with lemon and its hysterical. As far as the cost/tipping issue - the cost of this beverage isn't going to make anyone richer or poorer whether you are the patron or the server.

                                          1. I've seen it at every restaurant I worked. I never charged and never minded. And I mind a lot of things...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: montrealwaitress

                                              This is the best version of it I know

                                              In a restaurant, if you can get them to twist a whole lemon and let that sit in the tea pot - it's miles better than just lemon in water

                                            2. My mom always orders hot water with lemon- not to be cheap but because she hates dark tea. She would rather dunk the teabag herself.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                Doesn't the teabag usually come on the side? Or can't she simply request it to?

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  She does but sometimes the restaurant doesn't have decaf or the brand she likes so she brings her own. But again- restaurants shouldn't assume everyone who does this is trying to be cheap. I've been in a similar situation- last month I had a very bad cold and was at a diner that didn't have decaf tea. (I'm not allowed to have caffiene) I wished I had carried around decaf tea in my purse like my mom does! :}

                                                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                    "... sometimes the restaurant doesn't have decaf or the brand she likes so she brings her own. "

                                                    The restaurant doesn't have the type of dry-aged Prime beef I like. Should I bring my own, ask for all the accoutrements that go with it (in the case of tea, lemon, hot water, milk, sugar/honey/Splenda, teapot, teacup, saucer, spoon,etc.) and expect it for free? That's what bringing your own teabag is essentially, on a reduced scale.

                                              2. My Dad does this, but he just drinks it plain. He picked it up when he gave up drinking coffee. My brother and I always thought it was strange. Didn't realize it was so common.

                                                1. My wife frequently orders hot water with lemon particulary in the winter or if the restaurant is chilly. The only fine restaurant in new york city that has charged for this in my experience was the River Cafe in Brooklyn. They charged $3.50, the same as tea sevice. When I questioned the charge the waiter's response (incorrectly so) was that all restaurants charge for hot water. From experience, no fine restaurants charge for hot water with lemon including Daniel, Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Jean Georges, Bouley, among others.

                                                  1. Are most of the people who find the hot water thing quirky, "special", peculiar, etc. not Asian? B/c I've been drinking hot water since college, and I don't understand what the big fuss is. A lot of Chinese people do it. Everyone that I have lived with thought it strange at first, and now are regular hot water drinkers. I find it strange that people think it's so strange. I'm sure hundreds of millions (yes, I know, grossly basing it on the fact that many Chinese I know do this. It's not a scientifically accurate number, I know, but just because 80 percent of the 300 million people in the U.S. don't do it doesn't mean it's "peculiar" or that people who do this are "special", bizzare, etc.) of people in the world drink warm/hot water. When I was in Beijing, restaurants served it.

                                                    I went to a wedding and had a back and forth about this w/ the server, and I finally said, "it's like tea-- without the teabag" which finally brought comprehension.

                                                    We drink water cold, room temp, so why not hot? It tastes neutral, and sometimes I don't want the flavor of a teabag, and a lot of times, they don't have herbal teas (I don't like decaf black tea), and I don't do coffee, so I do hot water.

                                                    I don't do the honey unless I'm sick, but when I go to a restaurant, I usually just take it plain. I haven't noticed whether I get charged or not, since with the warmer weather, I haven't asked for it in months, though if you have a hot water dispenser for tea, it's really not that much work to pour it. I wouldn't mind being charged for it, I suppose, though I don't see much of a difference between the cold free water we get.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: anzu

                                                      I'm not Asian, and in the New England state I work in, I've only seen elderly people ask for this.

                                                    2. I have known several people that would order this.

                                                      So do those of you that think a cup of hot water is an odd order or should bear a charge pay for a glass of cold water with ice, lemon and a straw? Seems about the same amount of extra work. (Bear in mind that it is not uncommon for water shortages to be alleged at which times some restaurants refrain from serving water unless it is asked for)

                                                      1. jfood sometimes like a mint or cammomile tea after a meal. If the restaurant only has Lipton types, he would consider hot water and lemon. Should this be free, no. should it be the full tea charge, probably not.

                                                        1. I like drinking it in the morning for breakfast. It makes me poop.

                                                          1. I work as a server in a restaurant and though I am concerned about the bill my customers are racking up, the total and guest server average (I'm expected to reach a certain average based on average sales per head during my entire shift) the problem with people ordering hot water is because of the inconvenience while I'm making my rounds between tables.

                                                            When a person orders water I bring them their first glass and it can be refilled from a pitcher in my station. Easy peasy.

                                                            When a person orders hot water I am essentially bringing them a hot tea for no charge. I add a mug, a small plate, a slice of lemon, and a hot metal teapot full of hot water, which takes an annoying amount of time to fill up and usually sprays everywhere while filling. The only difference between this and ordering hot tea is whether or not I being a caddy with tea options in addition to the mug teapot and plate, and for no charge.

                                                            Imagine I have a full section of customers and have a large tray of items to being at once. This becomes terrifying when I have a pot of hot water slip sliding around on my tray at my eye level. Now imagine the customer asking for refills! It becomes a speed bump and annoyance while I'm juggling my other customers' and making sure they're getting proper service.

                                                            I'm sure other servers and waiters can attest to this experience, especially when a full table orders several hot waters. I could care less about them saving a dollar, I'm more worried about how it will slow me down at work when I'm busy and liable to make mistakes, threatening how well I get tipped.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Skratyy007

                                                              Ordering hot water is not about saving a dollar, there are people who order hot water because they want to drink hot water. Why not complain about people who don't order alcohol? Or bottled water? Since you're bringing tap water for "free". People shouldn't order hot water because it will slow you down? I totally understand servers not wanting customers to purposely make their life difficult and jump through hoops, but where I come from, ordering hot water is very common. It's a little harsh to be annoyed at a customer because they want hot water.

                                                              In many Chinese restaurants, hot tea is free and you don't have servers complaining about the difficulty of refilling hot drinks or the money lost on not ordering soda, juice or alcohol.

                                                              1. re: Skratyy007

                                                                Delivering hot water is "terrifying"? Oh my. Is it less terrifying if there's a tea bag in it?

                                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                                  Haha, no. It's the same amount of terrifying, but knowing that you're charging for the service eases the nerves a bit.

                                                              2. A pre-breakfast Catskills favorite of elderly Jews for "cleansing" the system after a night of rigorous sleep.

                                                                1. Old ladies do. I've seen a few slip in their own teabag. When I was a server I charged them for it.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: C70

                                                                    I do that but I tell them I have my own tea bag. Restaurant tea selection is invariably crappy. Sigh.

                                                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                                                      Restaurant tea sucks totally. I always have a teabag with me.

                                                                  2. When I managed a restaurant one of my servers charged a woman for her hot water with lemon and honey. The lady absolutely hit the roof.

                                                                    This woman sat there and used up our honey, and about a lemon and a half. We then had to wash her dirty cup, the dirty plate that had the lemon, and the tea pot used to hold her hot water. In addition to this, she ran the server back and forth fetching more and more water. I did not apologize for charging her.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                      If that's all she ordered, then absolutely !

                                                                      But generally with meals, restaurants don't charge for hot water+lemon. At least I've never seen any that does (my parents order it all the time).

                                                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                        Her and her companion split a salad.

                                                                        1. re: jpc8015

                                                                          [rolls eyes] .... don't you just hate that, $$ of manpower to take in a mere $5 (?) in revenue, not to mention loss of table turnover for other customers.

                                                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                            After considering the amount of lemon she used it would have been a loss.

                                                                    2. I've been doing this since i had a baby last year. I need to stay hydrated for nursing so I gave up the coffee/tea/chai I was ordering out, choosing to just have caffeine at home first. - I couldn't get out of the house without one cup of caffeine since the baby, but I do try to limit myself.
                                                                      Sometimes I add an herbal "nursing" tea bag. Never have added honey. I am happy to pay for the service, but I'm not going to go into it every place I order. Go ahead and charge me. This is never the only thing I order, btw. Usually it's one of three or four items.

                                                                      A note to all you boo-hooer's. It's a healthy beverage. Chill the fuck out.

                                                                      1. First of all, hot water with lemon, with or without honey, isn't strange or unusual at all.

                                                                        Next, when people say it "aids digestion", what they are avoiding saying is that it's supposed to help you to poop more easily (or should I say, "evacuate"?). Don't know if that's true, but that's been the belief for a very long time.

                                                                        And lastly, hubby was recovering from a health crisis over the winter and wanted a warm, comforting beverage that was mild, and I intro'd him to this beverage. He loved it and still has it sometimes for something different.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          "Don't know if that's true, but that's been the belief for a very long time."

                                                                          I'd love to see even a shred of reliable science-based support for that. There's absolutely nothing harmful about hot water with lemon, but there's no real benefit from it either.

                                                                        2. I never have, but I was dining in NYC a few years ago and one of my party was obviously a bit under the weather. The server, unasked, brought her a cup of hot water with lemon. Class act.

                                                                          1. I carry my own decaffeinated teabags and would not dream of ordering a cup of hot water. I order tea, save the regular teabag, use my own, and pay for tea anyway.

                                                                            This thread is reminding me of the drink people used to order in the Depression when they had no money---a Pine Float (glass of water and a toothpick).

                                                                            1. I am shocked by the negative comments. I am a cancer survivor and hot lemon water was on my list of many items that Sloan Kettering put on my list of food/benefits. I have dined at some of the top restaurants in the world and I have never been charged for my cup. It is more commonly ordered in Europe. When I was in Paris, many of my friends that lived in the city ordered this drink at the end of every dinner.
                                                                              Perhaps the next time you witness a person who orders hot lemon water, instead of accusing them of being cheap, think about the chance that they may be fighting cancer.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: six dower

                                                                                I really don't get the association of this drink with trying to be thrifty.
                                                                                I order this because it's comforting and what I need at the time.
                                                                                It's usually part of a large order for three people, but even when it's just me ordering a small breakfast and hot water, it seems well received.
                                                                                Congratulations on being a cancer survivor.

                                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                                  Thanks! I loved your comment above...I think many posters need to "CTFO".

                                                                                  1. re: six dower

                                                                                    Where I live hot water w/lemon is associated with gangs of little old tightwads who made sure to eat before they went out to dine-I mean the kind of people that wait staff absolutely dread seeing.

                                                                                    And Yes there are places here that charge the same for it as they would for a cup of tea and well they should.