When it's impossibly muggy outside and I feel like I might be dying a slow death from the heat it's hard to imagine anything worse than chugging a boiling hot cup of tea. But, despite these seemingly sensible intuitions, studies now show that it if I'm to escape from the irrepressible cling of the summer sun it might actually be the best thing I can do.
I've often heard it repeated that "If you're hot you should have a cup of tea. It'll help cool you down" but, I'd generally shrugged the idea off as demonstrably wrong nonsense. In fact, I set out to write this article to show just that, but evidently, It's me who's mistaken.
What it boils down to is the way our bodies, quite cleverly, regulate our temperature. When we're feeling the burn, we sweat. Whether its due to the summer sun or the mug in our hand, should our bodies temperature exceed a certain level of hotness we'll do our best to compensate by evaporating moisture out through our skin (the actual mechanics of this are that sweat absorbs the heat from our body, smuggling it out) but, the degree to which we do this is disproportionate to our actual needs; the input is less than the output. In other words, we sweat out more heat than our initial body temperature suggests we should and the net benefit is that we are less hot than we were when we started complaining about it. Excellent!
However, it's not quite as simple as saying that by getting hotter we will actually cool down. We needn't reach for the thermal underwear, the knitted sweatshirt or the rhubarb and custard tea just yet. The aforementioned studies showed that cooling down will only be facilitated given the room to do so, in conditions that permit airflow. Putting it frankly, wearing a jumper under the sun is more likely to contain the heat and boil you in it than it is to cool you down and refresh you and so it'll be speedos under a light breeze (with tea!) that will most likely facilitate your temperature loss.
One last point, If you're really struggling with the idea of downing a hot tea in the midst of this incredibly hot summer don't be anxious just yet, there is another option provided by the deviously cooling effects of the peppermint in mint choc chip ice cream tea. While mint (or menthol, to be precise) doesn't exactly cool you down it does provide the quite illusory sensation of feeling cooler. Couple this with the aforementioned process pertained to by supping a hot beverage, which actually will reduce your temperature and you'll be fully baltic before you know it (warning: this sentence may have included mild exaggeration).