Cooling Down With Hot Drinks: Tea Really Takes Away The Heat!

Cooling Down With Hot Drinks: Tea Really Takes Away The Heat!

There is a saying that we often hear in daily life, especially in hot weather: ‘Tea takes away the heat’. Is there any scientific basis for this claim?

Let’s look at this issue from a wider window and talk about the cooling effect of hot drinks.

Is It Possible To Cool Down With Hot Drinks?

Imagine that you are covered in sweat after exercising on a hot summer day. Right now, every cell in your body is begging for an ice-cold drink. So, what does science say about this situation? I know, a warm tea set in front of us when we’re sweaty doesn’t look appealing at all, but research shows that hot tea cools you more than iced water!

Although the idea of ​​​​drinking hot liquids in hot weather seems quite contradictory, there is some truth to it. When we drink a hot beverage, the temperature-sensing cells in our tongue send a warning to our brain. Our brain, which realizes that a hot drink has entered the body, activates the sweating mechanism to cool itself. In this way, our body manages to cool itself by sweating and tries to stabilize our body temperature at the most suitable temperature.

Drinking a Hot Drink

When we drink a cold beverage, our brain perceives it and works in the opposite way. Since we drink a cold liquid compared to our body, our brain starts to warm itself in order to maintain our body temperature. In other words, it spends energy to bring the drink to body temperature, and as a result, the body warms up.

Although the cold beverage we drink to cool down feels good in the short term, it causes our body to warm up. Drinking a hot beverage has the opposite effect, causing our bodies to sweat and cool off after a while.

Should We Drink Hot or Cold Water After Sports?

One of the most important researchers on this subject is Ollie Jay, known for his research on “Human Kinetics”. The research conducted in 2012 was on people who exercised for a certain period of time and drank water at different temperatures. As a result of the research, 57 kJ of heat loss was observed in the subjects who drank the hottest water, while a temperature increase of 21 kJ was observed in the subjects who drank the coldest water. Loss of heat means that our body cools down, while an increase in temperature means that it warms up. As a result, while those who drank hot water became cooler, those who drank cold water increased their body temperature.

Sweaty Man Image

NOTE: The main reason why hot drinks lower body temperature is our sweating system. If sweating is not possible, this system completely collapses and the high heat brought by the hot drink warms us even more. For example, in hot and humid areas, it may not be a logical option to drink hot beverages as it will be difficult for the body to sweat. It seems like a better option for people living in such areas to provide coolness, albeit for a short time, by consuming cold drinks.

References and Further Readings

O;, B. A. R. L. N. C. J. (n.d.). Body heat storage during physical activity is lower with hot fluid ingestion under conditions that permit full evaporation. Acta physiologica (Oxford, England).

Stromberg, J. (2012, July 10). A Hot Drink on a Hot Day Can Cool You Down.,can%20evaporate%2C%E2%80%9D%20Jay%20says.

Thomson, J. R. (2018, July 2). Feeling Too Warm? Drinking A Hot Drink Will Actually Cool You Down. HuffPost.

You can access the sources of the images used by clicking on the images.

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

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Mete Esencan

Hello everyone! I'm Mete Esencan. I am a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at METU. I was planning to establish a platform by combining the research knowledge I gained during my basic science education and the management experience I gained in the METU Chemistry Society, which I was in charge of for three years. For this purpose, in February of 2021, I took the first step and established the OkButWhy, a platform where we can write articles as if to chat about science, art and philosophy. I wish everyone a pleasant reading!

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