DEAR ABBY: This problem may sound inconsequential, but it sure is annoying. In fact, I am steaming. I want a second tea bag!
Whenever we eat out, my wife orders coffee and I order tea. Usually the coffee and tea cost the same, so why is it that the servers come around with big pots of fresh coffee, endlessly refilling my wife's cup for free, yet when I ask for a refill, I only get more hot water? When I ask for a new tea bag, I'm almost always told, "I'll have to charge you for a new cup." Abby, if you've ever had to reuse a tea bag, you know that it makes a weak, disgusting cup of tea.
A box of 100 tea bags is, at most, $4.50 in a supermarket; presumably, restaurants buy in bulk and pay less. That means a cup of tea costs them less than 5 cents (there's no point in including the cost of water and heating, since that's also done for free coffee refills).
Considering that restaurants charge anywhere from 85 cents to $1.10 for a cup of tea, I would hope that they could shell out four whole pennies for another tea bag for their customers -- customers who certainly order more than just tea, and leave a tip besides.
Abby, since your column is read daily in restaurants and diners across America and Canada, perhaps you can help me and thousands of other tea drinkers by printing this:
RESTAURATEURS: If you're going to be generous enough to offer a second cup of coffee free (and a third and a fourth), kindly treat your hot-tea drinkers with the same generosity. -- TEA-ED OFF IN NEW YORK
DEAR TEA-ED OFF: What kind of establishments are you patronizing? I checked with two national chains -- Denny's and Howard Johnson's -- and was told that they will give a free second tea bag upon request. If a server gave an answer like the one you received, I'd ask to talk to the manager. And if the manager didn't overrule the server, I'd make it plain -- in the friendliest and most polite vernacular -- why that restaurant wouldn't be getting any more of my business. Refusing to give a patron a second tea bag is a foolish economy, considering the cost of poor public relations.