We're currently at the halfway mark of the year, with summer at its peak and temperatures reaching record highs. A hot cup of chai probably doesn't sound like the first thing you'd think of when trying to beat the heat, but what if we told you it might just be one of the best ways to cool off? That's right - we're talking about how this blend of black tea, spices, and herbs, all brewed in hot water, might just be your summer companion!
Take it from the roots of chai itself - almost every day, chaiwallahs (Masala Chai vendors) across India are flocked to for a freshly-made cup of chai, despite the scorching heat! And for good reason - in this blog, we'll cover the various aspects of chai that make it a cooling summer drink.
First things first: Should you drink hot drinks during the summer?
Before we get into chai, let's dive into hot drinks themselves - should you even drink them on a scorching summer's day? It turns out, yes! According to a widely-cited study by University of Ottawa, consuming hot beverages in the summer can trigger certain cooling mechanisms that lower your body temperature!
According to neuroscientist Peter McNaughton (University of Cambridge), when you consume a hot drink, receptors in the tongue, throat, and stomach detect the high temperatures and signal to the body to produce a ton of sweat. This sweat then evaporates off your skin in the warm environment, carrying the heat energy stored in your body into the air. This regulates the body's elevated internal temperature, cooling you down.
That's why the most ideal conditions for a cup of chai would be a dry, hot day - once you begin sweating, it's important that the water finds a way to evaporate and dry so that your body temperature lowers! The faster it dries, the better - to test this out, try dabbing a bit of water or rubbing alcohol to your skin's surface and blowing on it. You'll immediately feel the cooling sensation! Alcohol more so than water, because it evaporates faster.
Do cold drinks cool you down?
It might even be better to have a hot drink over a cold one on a hot day - cold drinks, according to some studies, can only momentarily cool you down. The most effective way for the body to feel less warm is to sweat, which is what happens with hot drinks.
What sets masala chai apart as an ideal hot summer drink?
The benefits of a hot cup of masala chai in summer don't just stop there. As you might already know, masala chai blends like the ones we prepare here at ChaiBag come with a myriad of spices. Spices, according to Ayurvedic medicine, can have either cooling or warming effects.
Traditionally, the 'cooling' spices include: fennel seeds, cardamom, and saffron. All of our blends come with fennel and cardamom, but our Saffron Masala Chai takes the cake as a summer drink with its saffron and dried-rose petal base! Rose petals are also considered cooling in Ayurvedic medicine.
Masala chai in general can help keep you on top of your hydration game - mainly because it's made almost entirely of water, and can be enjoyed multiple times during the day. It's also more hydrating compared to coffee, since it has lower caffeine levels, which is a diuretic.
The benefits of all types of spices!
Aside from this, there's no shortage of health benefits that the traditionally 'warming' spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg can bring to your cup of chai - read more on this here!
The duality of chai: enjoy it cold!
It's still a matter of preference when it comes to warm drinks in the summer. Fortunately, chai has something for everyone. With its versatile flavor profile, a cup of chai can be prepared both hot and cold, and you've probably already heard of one of the most popular ways to have chai cold - the iced chai latte! It's surprisingly easy to whip up this drink at home, and we even have a step-by-step guide ready for you!
So, to conclude: Can you have masala chai in the summers? The answer is yes. Chai, when consumed hot, can activate your body's cooling mechanism by making you sweat. Masala chai is also made with spices that, according to traditional Indian medicine, can cool you down from the inside. However, a hot drink on a sunny day still isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that's where cold masala chai beverages come in!