# Drink a hot beverage to stay cool in hot weather?

I just started reading House of Sand and Fog and early on in the book one of the main characters is doing manual labor on a hot day outside. For lunch he drinks hot tea which his co-workers think is nuts due to the heat but the character having grown up in Iran “knows” hot weather and knows that a hot beverage keeps you cooler than a cold one would.

Granted this is a work of fiction and no reason to think the above is anything but made up yet I believe I have heard that notion elsewhere as well.

So I turn to The Dope to see if this counterintuitive idea has any validity to it. Anyone know?

Well, I can sort of see the reasoning behind it. If you drink a cold beverage, you will expend calories heating it up. More calories burned = more heat. However, when you drink the hot tea, although you won’t expend calories to warm it up, the heat that’s in it WILL have to be transferred to you. So then logic says the ideal temperature to drink something in hot weather would be at body temperature. No calories burned heating it up, and it won’t have any extra heat that must be transferred to you.

However, on a more practical level, the amount of energy heating up a cold beverage is small compared to the amount of energy used to just sit around. A calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat 1 ml of wter 1 degree C. Let’s say you drink half a liter of cold water for lunch (let’s say it’s 10 degrees C.) So now we have 500 ml of water that needs to get raised 27 degrees (body temp is 37 C.) That equates to 13,500 calories. Seems like a lot at first…but a food Calorie (note the capitol C) is actually a kilocalorie, that’s 1000 calories. So you would burtn a whopping 13.5 Calories to heat up a cold beverage. Considering that manual labor burns 200-300 Calories an hour (from here, several types of labor there, I took the 200-300 range because it seemed on par with things like carpentry and moving heavy loads) we can see that the 13.5 burned from drinking the cold water is a pittance.

Given the immediate effect of a cooling sensation of drinking a cold beverage, over the immediate warming sensation of drinking a hot beverage, I’ll take the cold one and suffer those 13.5 Calories, especially since it’s spread out over the course of several minutes.

This is a thing that is probably really hard to measure. Body temperature is going to be regulated in a really tight range anyway so the feelings are likely subjective. A hot beverage adds heat to your body and a cold one takes it away. However, because we are talking about subjective sensations, a hot beverage may make the 90 degree air feel cooler when you are sipping on something much hotter than that. If you sit in an outdoor hot tub or go into a sauna on a very hot day, the formerly sweltering air will feel a lot cooler when you get out.

There must be something to it – every hot beverage I can think of has come from a place with a warm or hot climate: coffee from Ethiopia, tea from (southern) China, chocolate from central America, rooibos from South Africa, kava from the tropical Pacific, mate from South America…

bouv, your body doesn’t perform extra metabolism to maintain its temperature unless you’re cold enough to shiver. If you’re already warm, then your body is not going to somehow burn extra calories in order to warm up a glass of cold water when you drink it.

All those hot beverages contain stimulants – mainly caffine.

Does caffine have an effect on the body’s heating/cooling system that might be significant here?

I live in a pretty damn hot area (Mississippi Gulf Coast) and no one drinks hot beverages. Everything is iced down. So whether or not a heated drink cools you off, it’s not a belief held by all peoples from hot climates.

I suppose it depends on what sort of herbs you are using for tea, and what effect you want to have. Most herbs benefit from an extraction of boiling water, for potency, in order to extract the desirable properties. You boil water, put the herbs in, and let them steep. Of course, the boiling was often desirable in far yond states in order to assure a sanitary drinking source as well.

So, my question would be, what was the herb source of tea used? If it was one used for particular medicinal properties that act as an ally in hot weather, the hot water extraction would be recommended, to fully use best properties. Or, was it regular tea, camellia sinensis? Makes a difference in making an astute judgement here.

Taiwan is hot as hell during the long summer months. We rarely experienced temperatures in the 70’s. Night times lows were usually around 82 or 83 degrees. And the humidity was always very high. Few people had A/C (I didn’t).

Whenever I visited a home where “older” people lived, I was offered a glass of HOT tea. It was so hot that I couldn’t even hold the glass around the very top (I never drank any of it) . I always thought this was insane and still do. The younger generation has thankfully abandoned this tradition.
I don’t think its even a case where the actual result of drinking a hot or cold drink matters. Psychologically, a cold drink is going to make you feel better on a hot day.

May herbal teas (linden, peppermint, sasparilla and cinnamon, to name just a few) are diaphoretic, meaning they induce sweating. Drinking something hot also makes you sweat. Sweating makes you feel cooler.

Eating spicy foods, also found in hot climates, works in a similar way. Your mouth may be stinging, but the sweat that breaks out on your brow from eating that spicy Mexican or Ethiopian or Indian food makes you feel cooler.

Many. It matters not what month you’re drinking them in.

If you drink something cold, before it’s converted to pee, it will be heated to body temp. Whence came that heat? From you. You are deprived of some heat, which is what you wanted.

Scandinavians and Germans believe it, as far as I can tell. Possibly they’re right, but I don’t like hot drinks anyway and will therefore stick with my icy lemonade.

But if it’s hot, you’re likely sweating already, no?

Maybe. I’ve only travelled to two really hot places (Bali and Mexico) and the one thing that shocked me in both places was the relative lack of sweating going on with the locals. I’d be drenched (no surprise, I sweat in January) and the men who lived there would be wearing immaculately starched long sleeve shirts without a drop of sweat in the pits or on the face. I also have a friend who grew up in The Democratic Republic of Congo, and she reports that they don’t sweat there like we do here, even in higher temperatures. I don’t get it.

So perhaps (and we’re veering into WAG here) climate acclimation or even genetics makes them less likely to sweat on their own, and a hot drink does the trick. My sweaty German ass sure doesn’t need it, though - iced tea for me!

Pardon me if I am wrong here, but I believe the word you’re looking for is a diuretic. Those drugs increase your urine output, possibly dehydrating you.

I am not aware of caffeine specifically causing diaphoresis, or sweating.

Isn’t that just because they are all derived from plants which grow in these regions? Presumably historically those in colder places had to make do with hot soup and such (nettle tea anyone?). And at any rate, boiled water beverages like tea were drunk partly as a hygiene measure to avoid water-borne disease, just as booze was partly drunk for this reason in non-teagrowing areas.

Gotcha. I’m with you. I live in a cool climate, but I sweat year-round.

On the other hand, iced tea is pretty common in the southern U.S. I bet the lack of cold beverages in some of these places stems from not having the capacity to make them until relatively recently. Tradition may eventually give way to the refrigerator in a lot of these places.

Mmm…no. I wasn’t looking for the term diuretic, which caffeine is. I was using the word diaphoretic , which means to induce or increase sweating. I’m not finding any information on whether caffeine itself is a diaphoretic, which leads me to believe it isn’t. Likewise, camellia sinensis, or “tea” (white, green, black or oolong) is not particularly diaphoretic. But lots of other herbs commonly served as drinking teas *are *diaphoretic.

Just to add another example - trekking in Nepal years ago the locals’ beverage of choice was sweet milky tea served hot - sometimes with a bit of black pepper in it. At the time I think someone told me, or we assumed that “no calories were wasted” heating up the cool liquid during digestion.

Here’s a none temperature related idea - clean drinking water is scarce, refrigeration is expensive and uncommon. If you’re going to have to boil the water to make it safe to drink why not drink it while it is still hot rather than waiting for it to cool down ?