When tavalon first opened, summer wasn’t too far off. Our hot tea sales quickly fell and the ice machine began an intense workout. Almost instantaneously, all of our customers began clamoring in the doors, seeking cool refreshment in the form of iced tea and tea smoothies. All, that is, except my friend Derek.
Derek ordered the same thing every time: hot Chai. During the spring season the order made sense, as it was still quite chilly in the NYC mornings and evenings. However, in the summer it seemed he was trying to directly defy the forces of nature by ordering his hot Chai in the sweltering heat.
One day I asked him why he’d torture himself thusly. His answer was simple: it cools him down. So I did a little research and, as it turns out, Derek has a point.
When you drink something that is colder than your body temperature, your body has to work fairly hard to heat up to assimilate to the cold. Much of the energy goes to heating your body up, when what you really want is exactly the opposite. The closer your drink is to body temperature, the less work your body has to do. If your drink is above body temperature, your body will simply perspire and, thus, quickly cool you down. Therefore, in the long run, your body cools down better if you don’t shock the body with cold food or beverages.
It then makes clear sense why so many cultures in high-heat areas, such as India, China, Vietnam and South Africa, have such a strong hot tea drinking culture. It is not surprising, either, that many of these same cultures also tend to eat spicier foods, as this also leads to perspiration.
While it may seem a little weird at first, when you think about it it makes sense. So the next time you are trying to beat the heat, turn to a nice cup of hot tea!