Does drinking hot drinks really cool you down?

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·3-min read
Science says a cup of tea could help cool you down in hot weather. (Getty Images)
Science says a cup of tea could help cool you down in hot weather. (Getty Images)

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

But science has revealed sipping a hot cup of tea, or the like, could actually be the very best way of keeping cool.

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.

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: What a heatwave does to the body

Drinking a hot drink could cool you down. (Getty Images)
Drinking a hot drink could cool you down. (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.

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 hot and humid, the hot drink trick may not have the same effect.

Read more: 32 tips and tricks for sleeping during a heatwave

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 explains.

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 told

So, perhaps a steaming cup of tea isn't the best solution if you're working from home in this heatwave 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 as this raises body temperature and can make you feel hotter.

The NHS guidelines also state: “Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine - tea, coffee and cola - or drinks high in sugar.”

Maybe we’ll stick to dangling our feet in the paddling pool.

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