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No tea refills

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Why is it that when I order hot tea in a restaurant and the person with me orders coffee, that person gets unlimited refills while I have to practically beg for more hot water, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't, leaving me with a tepid half-filled cup of tea? And getting a new teabag is next to impossible. Doesn't a cup of coffee cost more than a 1-cent teabag? And why am I a second-class citizen because I ordered tea instead of coffee?

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  1. Most places that I order tea at usually bring me a small pot that holds 2 cups of water. In any place that gives free coffee refills, the coffee is usually so bad I would never order it to start with so I wouldn't feel bad about it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: chickenbruiser

      ha, chickenbrusier! funny.
      I think it depends on the place sfdkh5. I've had free refills on tea and places that you paid a premium for the tea.

      1. re: chickenbruiser

        Be it a greasy-spoon diner or 4-star restaurant, I've always gotten free coffee refills; it doesn't matter the quality of the coffee. What restaurant does not offer free coffee refills?

        1. re: ttoommyy

          I would say the majority of restaurants in Montreal don't offer free refills except for chains or American style diners. Although it's becoming more common now.... I think.

          1. re: chickenbruiser

            Thanks for the info chickenbruiser. I'm such an ethnocentric American. Sorry! :)

            1. re: ttoommyy

              I'm not sure but I think it's quite common across Canada except in Quebec so it could just be a North American anglo thing :)

          2. re: ttoommyy

            Free refills wouldn't be overly common in many European countries (although, of course, some places offer a cafetiere, which is usually good for a couple of cups)

        2. From the server perspective it is very easy to grab the coffee carafe and top-off several tables quickly, while checking on how the entire table is doing.

          Hot tea takes more time and usually it is a single customer drinking it. You have to find another little pot, get over to the hot water dispenser (usually in a busy spot), set the thing on a saucer, gather a dish of accouterments...Just takes a bit more time than a coffee refill.

          1. That is a problem, what bothers me more though is paying more for a "large" tea then a small one, they still only give you one tea bag so the additional hot water and slightly larger cup costs 25% more?

            1. "And why am I a second-class citizen because I ordered tea instead of coffee?"

              We're a coffee culture here in America. If you lived in England, your tea experience would be different.

              As another poster pointed out, there's no hot water pitcher usually, so you have to make a whole 2nd pot of tea. Teapots are limited in most restaurants (because we're a coffee culture). You could spend 10 minutes digging one out of the dish pile and hand washing it and drying it and then filling it up with water to bring your lone tea drinker a refill, thereby making your other guests mad as they're trying to find you and you're not there, or you could just hope they only wanted the 1 cup and that they're fine. And a teabag costs more to the restaurant than the coffee, that's why you only get one. It's not in a tap/spigot, like soda pop, or in a big vat of cheapness, getting 20 cups from one bag, like coffee, each bag is only one cup and it costs money.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rockandroller1

                true that about being in England and less problems getting tea but you would not get free refills on either tea or coffee.
                Tea is 'not done' in a restaurant after dinner. That's not to say you couldn't get it but it would be an odd request. Herbal teas however are very big.

                1. re: smartie

                  And you wont get refills of anything period in the UK or anywhere I've been in Europe. Actually anywhere I've ever been other than North America.

              2. I suppose I'm a tea snob, but most of the time I figure the tea at restaurants is pretty poor stuff, so I will take coffee. But now and then I'll bring my own 5-oz. teapot with good loose tea, then the staff just has to add hot water to it, and many loose teas can be good for 2-3 refills. I don't know, maybe the staff thinks I'm amusing, but I don't care. I'm also perfectly happy to pay the cost of a tea when I bring my own, for the water service.

                3 Replies
                1. re: comestible

                  First of all, as a former server, getting the tea service for a customer is very time consuming; find a teapot, make sure it's clean (they are notorious to be hard to clean because of the design and the sometimes dried tea leaves inside), fill with hot water to pre-warm, check the tea selection to make sure they are all there, empty said pot, refill with hot water, then bring to the customer along with freshly-cut lemon slices. Not as easy as pouring a cup of coffee.

                  And to comestible's comments, I used to have an older woman come into the restaurant and bring her own tea and was happy to pay for "tea service" (just the hot water and such) because she loved her brand.

                  The one thing that really irked me was when someone wanted just hot water in a tea cup, with lemon, and continued to ask for hot water refills several times. Of course we would never charge for that, and unfortunately would never be tipped on the extra service because it was "only water". Go figure.

                  1. re: SmartCookie

                    I used to be guilty of ordering hot water and lemon, along with the refill requests, in my college days, but mostly because that was what I really felt like drinking at the time. In some Asian establishments, you can actually order that off the menu.

                    These days, I rarely do, but mostly because I do not want to be given that look, although I would rather be given the option of being to pay for it, to avoid the embarrassment of appearing to be cheap.

                    However, when I get older, I see myself doing that all over again, along with bringing in my own tea. By then, I will sure remember to offer to pay for "tea service"!

                    1. re: SmartCookie

                      My mom does that! She honestly doesn't do it out of cheapness but because she has food sensitivities. Some days she just can't drink decaf tea or coffee without negative consequences, and so will order hot water with lemon and honey.

                  2. Quite often those "2 cup" pots of tea (often 1 1/2 cup) cool down before I am ready for a second cup, but only once did a waitress not bring me more hot water (I think she was so busy she just forgot). Often they just bring a carafe and pour directly into the cup, but that's ok with me. Those ubiquitous Lipton tea bags are usually good for 2 cups. Which reminds me, I'm always favorably disposed to those establishments which offer a choice of teas.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DonShirer

                      I agree that in a restaurant a two-cup teapot is perfectly acceptable, assuming the water stays hot for a while. But have you ever been in a diner-type place where they walk around constantly with refills for coffee and when you ask for hot water for your tea, they forget to grab the pot with the hot water that is waiting with the coffee pots, ready to pour? The only extra trouble they have to go to is to put down one coffee pot and pick up one hot water pot.

                    2. I can't speak for high end restaurants, but in a lot of middle-of-the-road restaurants, when you buy/rent the coffee machines the cost of the coffee is usually next to nothing, in turn making it easy for the restaurant to offer free refills. So when you ask, "Doesn't a cup of coffee cost more than a 1-cent teabag?" the answer may well be "no." Also, some places offer what I see to be expensive herbal teas, etc., in which case those teabags are definitely more pricy than a cup of coffee.

                      1. I actually rather have the server not refill my teapot (although they tend to, and I can only politely decline so many times), because I prefer my tea strong. Having it hot is important, but having it not overly diluted precedes it.

                        And if I feel the need for more tea (or coffee) by the time I am finished with the first one and the server has not offered more yet, I would just order another one. If I do get offered a free coffee refill or teabag, I would feel inclined to tip more and it would not have made much difference in the total I am paying anyway.

                        1. Here's another one that I may be solo on.

                          I do not like my coffee scorching hot. So I patiently wait for it to drop to the appropriate temperature and it also contains my desired milk add-on. Then I get halfway through the cup, am speaking with someone at the table and poof, the server fills it to the top. Now I have 2 issues. One it is too hot again and 2 it it not the correct milk-coffee ratio.

                          But you cannot fault a server for going the extra mile, so i just deal with it and try to be more aware of the surroundings when the second top-off arrives.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jfood

                            Too funny, jfood. My husband agrees with you. He too hates the coffee top up, like he says, "it throws off the milk-sugar-coffee ratio"