Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hot tea in the summertime

I hesitate to even wade into this debate, but it is July — when I'm asked this question at least once or twice a week: How can you stand to drink hot tea in the heat of summer?

Because I like hot tea. That's really the only answer. I have cited indistinct evidence before about people in India drinking hot tea in the scorching heat because it makes them sweat and thus cools them down, all the while knowing that's really bunk (the cool-down from the perspiration is true, it just isn't enough to counteract the heat from the tea and the revved up metabolism, etc.). Keeping my thermostat at 90 degrees would make me sweat, too, of course. So there goes that logic. In reality, we prefer hot drinks in winter and iced tea in summer for sensory reasons rather than dictates of body temperature, and ultimately the temperature of the drink doesn't matter that much. The important thing is to drink anything at all — to stay hydrated.

Still, I love this article about the success of tea shops in, of all places, Phoenix. I lived there once — for a summer. One day it hit 124 degrees, and a local chef tried and succeeded in frying an egg on the sidewalk. But, like most shops, they sell a lot of hot tea in the mornings and iced tea in the afternoons throughout those dismal summers. It's not as if this plant we love so much comes from Siberia. They love it there, with their gorgeous samovars and all, they just can't grow it. Tea comes from India and China and Kenya and ... you know, hot spots.

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