You may have wondered why. Why do many Asians (and grandmothers) take hot tea on a hot day? Does the extra heat cool them down? If yes, how so?
To answer this question sufficiently, it’s best to look at how the body works. Science supports hot tea being an excellent remedy in both hot and cold seasons, mainly because of how the body reacts to external and internal stimuli. With that said, here are several pointers to further explain this phenomenon:
The Answer According to Biology
A study by researchers at the University of Ottawa concluded that hot drinks can cool the body down, but only in precise conditions. When you take in a hot drink, it ends up lowering the amount of heat trapped in your body. But that’s so long as the extra heat can evaporate from the body.
If you’re all covered up, the chances of hot tea cooling you down on a hot day are minimal. In other words, drinking a hot beverage disproportionately increases the amount of sweat you’re excreting. And if all that sweat can evaporate, the body will cool down.
Therefore, the most crucial pointer here is the increased rate of perspiration. As you may know, sweating cools the body when the energy released as part of the perspiration reaction gets absorbed into the air. As such, sweating more means cooling more.
So how did the University of Ottawa researchers get to the bottom of the ‘hot tea phenomenon? They conducted a series of vigorous tests on cyclists in their lab. For each test, the cyclists got equipped with a mouthpiece and skin temperature sensors to measure the amount of carbon dioxide produced as well as oxygen consumed.
The researches then used this information to calculate how much heat the cyclists’ bodies’ metabolism produced. They also tracked other significant factors like humidity and air temperature. The resultant data indicated the difference in the amount of heat produced, and that which got released to the environment.
Later, some of the cyclists took in hot drinks (roughly 122 degrees F). The rest? Room temperature water.
And behold! Those who took in hot drinks released more heat than those who didn’t. Now let’s look at what happens inside the body to cool you off after ingesting a hot beverage on a hot day:
The Body’s Internal Air Conditioning
According to Eastern Medicine, the stomach is one of the body’s yang organs. In fact, many Asians refer to it as the internal fire. If it’s to function properly, it has to stay warm.
Now, hot tea improves the circulation and absorption of nutrients in the stomach. This, in turn, helps you to digest foods better. When you ingest something cold, receptors in your tongue’s and throat’s nerve linings signal your brain that the body needs to warm up.
One of the receptors responsible for signalling your brain when you ingest something hot is TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid).
The number 1 denotes the exact role this receptor plays- detecting heat and temperature in foods and beverages.
Take note that the Asians refer to water as yin because it’s cold in nature. If anything, cold water slows down the digestion process. This means that drinking cold water worsens your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
In essence, the colder the water the weaker your yang energy in the stomach. On the other hand, hot/ warm water or tea relaxes the stomach. What’s more, hot beverages make the receptors to signal your brain that you’re experiencing heat.
The brain then sends signals other receptors to activate the body’s heat defence- sweat. These receptors activate your body’s systematic cooling mechanism. This, in turn, opens up the skin’s sweat glands.
Why Cold Drinks Won’t Cool You Down on a Hot Day
In as much as drinking an ice-cold soda or water sounds in scorching weather sounds comforting, it’s merely a quick and temporary fix.
According to pseudoscience, cold drinks won’t cool you down because of the difference between the body’s internal temperature and the external (environment) temperature. In other words, drinking a cold beverage on a hot day makes the external environment feel hotter since the internal body feels cooler.
Drinking hot tea on a hot day makes the external heat feel less extreme as the internal body becomes warmer. Alternatively, you can also cool yourself off by cooling the body externally. For instance, you can swim in a pool or utilize a cold air fun as well as a cold towel.
Other Unique Ways to Cool Off in the summer
Did you know that introducing cooling herbs to a warm/ hot up of tea can make you lose massive heat? Yes, some foods and herbs are synonymous with assisting in cooling down the body. Creating a tea blend consisting of such plants and foods will keep you feeling relaxed and happy on a hot day.
Some examples of these summer cooling foods include white cucumber, apricot, peach, wild strawberry, watermelon, melon berry, etc. In light of this, you can drink a hot cup of tea and eat a bowl of crisp salad or fruit at the same time to quickly cool off on a hot day.
Another excellent hot day remedy is to drink tea blended with cooling spices. Yes, spices like lemongrass, rose, chai, hibiscus, spearmint, and peppermint will work to comfort you when the weather is extremely hot.
Also, even a seemingly insignificant action like smelling the aroma of your favourite tea can relax you. On a hot day, this aroma may help you forget about the heat outside.
But if you reside in a more humid area, it’s best to focus on cooling your external body first. This may mean avoiding any restrictive clothing. You should also use a fun to dry off all the sweat you’re extracting.
If the sweat hasn’t dried, you may feel quite uncomfortable drinking a hot/ warm beverage on a scorching day.
With the appropriate conditions, hot tea will cool you down faster than any cold beverage. Even so, it all boils down to your personal preference. Those in the East love to drink hot beverages on searing days, while many in the West prefer ice drinks. All in all, a hot drink is better for your stomach than a cold one.