It’s been 100+ degrees here in Austin, Texas, for the last two weeks – and I’m still drinking hot tea. Maybe not to the extent that I usually do – I’ve been switching over to iced tea or water earlier in the day – but I’m still starting my days with at least two cups of hot tea. I’ve been trying to understand why I haven’t felt the need to change over completely to cold beverages, even when I leave early and take something with me, but I haven’t come up with a good answer. Perhaps I’m just too much a creature of habit!
I’ve also been trying to determine the truth of something my friends in Malaysia told me when I was there: that drinking hot tea will cool you off. The theory is that the hot tea makes you sweat, thereby cooling your body. And even though I bought into it at the time, and tasted some fantastic oolongs and pu-erhs at a local tea shop, I’m not so sure that the theory holds up scientifically, although when the British colonized Malaysia (as well as India and other sub-tropical countries), they certainly believed in the cooling benefits of tea. And it’s accepted wisdom in China, as well.
I checked a few sources on the Internet, and found one explanation for why hot tea doesn’t really cool you. However, it’s a widely held belief that tea does have a cooling effect, as noted above. Maybe it’s psychological, or maybe it’s the fact that you need to stop what you’re doing to concentrate on making and drinking your tea, as the article suggests. I’m still on the fence.
I will say that I’ve changed the types of tea I’m drinking in hot weather. I usually drink black tea or flavored black tea, interspersed with a bit of oolong. Lately, though, I’ve been drinking more oolong and green tea, with only a few forays into the black tea world. One black tea I love no matter what the weather is Georgian black tea – it has such a light, refreshing flavor with just a hint of sweetness that it’s perfect in any season. I haven’t had any Darjeeling tea recently, but I think I may brew up a pot one day soon. Considering the fact that it’s a very popular tea in India, it should go well with hot weather!
I also want to experiment with using tea to make granitas and sorbets. I found a couple of recipes for them that don’t look too difficult, so I’ll have to try them out and report back. I think a tea-based berry or pomegranate granita would be a fantastic dessert for a barbecue on the 4th of July!
In any case, I’m going to keep drinking my hot tea every morning. But sometimes there’s nothing better than a big glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon, especially with a little sprig of mint to make it extra-refreshing.