Is It True that Drinking Hot Tea Cools You Down?
Countries with hot climates often drink hot beverages and eat spicy foods - could their strategy of evaporative cooling work for you?
Q. Is it true that drinking hot tea in hot weather cools you down better than drinking a cold beverage?
A. This is certainly widely believed in India—a country that obviously knows a little bit about living with the heat. The argument is that drinking hot liquids causes your heart rate to increase and your blood vessels to dilate. This brings more blood to the surface of the skin and allows more body heat to be transferred to the air (convective cooling). It may also cause you to start sweating, which can cause evaporative cooling. The same argument is also used to explain why eating spicy food would make you feel cooler.
On the other hand, if the air around you is hotter than body temperature (as in the recent heat wave experienced here on the East Coast), that’ll undercut any convective cooling. And if you’re already sweating heavily, then you’re unlikely to enjoy any additional evaporative cooling. And, quite honestly, we can theorize about the physics all day long: what really matters is your individual perception. Personally, drinking iced tea feels more cooling to me than drinking hot tea on a hot day. (Maybe holding onto that icy glass is part of it!) But why not do a little experiment of one and find out whether drinking a hot beverage makes you feel cooler? You might be surprised! Either way, though, you’ll have the only answer that really matters.
Tea photo from Shutterstock