Does drinking hot drinks really cool you down?

Science says hot drinks could help cool you down in hot weather. (Getty Images)
Science says hot drinks could help cool you down when the sun's out. (Getty Images)

From dipping our feet in the paddling pool, to pouring ourselves an ice cold drink, when we’re feeling overheated there are plenty of tried and tested methods out there to cool down – but making ourselves hot drinks certainly isn’t one of them.

But you might have heard that sipping a hot cup of tea, or the like, could actually be the very best way of keeping cool. And it's not just a myth, science shows it really does – but there's a bit more to it.

Sure a boiling brew is probably the last thing you fancy on a sweltering hot day, but the explanation about how a hot drink could keep you cool actually makes total sense.

It is all to do with sweat you see. Here comes the science bit...

It turns out drinking a hot drink increases the body’s heat load and the body responds to that by sweating.

This happens because the moment the hot liquid makes contact with the body’s temperature receptors, the brain tells the body to produce more sweat.

This sweat then cools on the surface of the skin, reducing the sensation of us being too warm and ultimately, making us feel cooler.

Read more: Why it's normal to feel grumpy in the heat

Man makes a cup of steaming hot coffee for himself
It might be wise to opt for a decaffeinated hot drink, however. (Getty Images)

We have Ollie Jay, a researcher at University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics, to thank for that genius bit of info.

Back in 2012, Jay conducted a series of experiments to analyse the effect a hot drink can have on your overall body temperature.

And he and his researchers discovered that drinking a hot brew or the equivalent can actually cool you down, because it results “in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body”.

Told you it would all make sense.

Read more: What happens to your body when it gets too hot?

But before you rush to stick on the kettle, it is worth noting that the hot drink/cool body trick won’t work in all situations.

If you’re drinking a hot drink in an environment where the sweat won’t evaporate, for example if you’re somewhere really humid, the hot drink trick may not have the same effect.

Equally, drinking a hot cuppa while wearing long sleeves and leggings likely won’t work.

That’s because sweat needs to evaporate and the reduction in temperature caused by sweating needs to exceed the increase in temperature caused by drinking a hot drink.

“On a very hot and humid day, if you’re wearing a lot of clothing, or if you’re having so much sweat that it starts to drip on the ground and doesn’t evaporate from the skin’s surface, then drinking a hot drink is a bad thing,” Jay told Smithsonian Magazine at the time.

It’s also worth noting that the heat from the drink will also raise your body temperature a little.

“The hot drink still does add a little heat to the body, so if the sweat’s not going to assist in evaporation, go for a cold drink,” Jay adds.

Read more: How to get rid of flies in the house: Best ways to banish pests quickly

Watch: Study: The personality differences between coffee and tea drinkers

So, perhaps a steaming cup of tea isn't the best solution if you're working from home in hot weather and don’t fancy sitting at your desk in your bikini.

Of course, the type of hot drink you opt for is also worth considering.

According to Public Health England, people should steer clear of drinking too much caffeine or alcohol in the hot weather.

The NHS guidelines echoes this with: “Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol."

If decaf isn't your thing, maybe it's best to stick to dangling those feet in the pool.