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A warm way to cool down

Heatstruck? science explains why drinking a cup of ‘hot’  rooibos is a healthier way to cool down this summer

Scorching temperatures in large parts of South Africa, could put many at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Babies, children and the elderly are particularly sensitive to heat.

Appropriate hydration is key to avoiding heat-related problems, but before you reach for something cold – a warm cup of (rooibos) tea might be a better option, say experts.

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A series of studies at the University of Ottawa found that a hot drink on a summer day lowers the amount of heat stored by the body, provided the sweat produced by the hot beverage can evaporate.

Research Director for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), Joe Swart explains: ‘As sweat evaporates from the surface of the skin, it cools and removes excess heat to keep body temperature in check. Researchers also tested the effect of a warm drink on those participating in exercise for 75 minutes at a relatively low intensity, in 24 ºC at 23% relative humidity, while drinking water at different temperatures. Their overall body temperatures dropped only after participants consumed the warm drink.

‘However, because conditions  such as airflow and humidity were controlled during the trials, the results could be different in an environment where sweat evaporation is limited, such as in hot, humid weather where one is dripping with sweat. In these conditions,  the cooling effect of hot drinks is likely to be less effective, which calls for colder drinks,’ he says.

The South African climate is quite temperate with plenty of sunny, dry days, so drinking a warm cuppa in summer might not be such a crazy idea after all…

Swart says rooibos tea is a healthy, affordable cooling option for everyone, including babies. ‘It contains no caffeine, is low in tannins and you can drink as much of it as you want, unlike other hot beverages that may have a diuretic effect.

‘Rooibos tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and comes in a variety of fruit- and spice-infused flavours. On a hot, dry summer day, cool down with a warn cup, while in hot, humid weather, it can be turned into a delicious iced tea, to help regulate your body temperature in a healthy, natural way.

‘It won’t add additional calories as it contains no fats or carbohydrates and is naturally sweet, which eliminates the need for sugar.’

If you live in the Mother City or Gauteng, hydrate with something warm, while cold drinks  are more suited to humid regions, such as Durban.

Try these rooibos iced tea recipes to help quench your thirst:

Rooibos, lemon and mint iced tea

6 bags rooibos tea; 1 lemon, sliced; 20 mint leaves

Place tea bags, lemon and mint leaves in a large pot, pour boiling water into it and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove tea bags when tea is cold and refrigerate. Add honey for a sweeter taste.


Rooibos and berry iced tea

3 rooibos tea bags; 3 cups water, 1 boiling, 2 cold; 1.5 cups raspberries;

3-4 Tblsps sugar (or to taste); 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or use a rooibos-vanilla tea infusion instead; 8 mint leaves; ice cubes, fresh raspberries and lemon wedges to serve

Make the tea using 1 cup of boiling water and three tea bags. Set aside for a few minutes to steep. Remove tea bags and add remaining cold water. Set aside to cool. Heat raspberries, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Put mixture through a sieve by squashing the fruit to help separate the pulp and juice from the seeds. Once the tea has cooled completely, add the raspberry mixture, lemon juice and mint leaves. Drop in fresh raspberries and a couple of lemon wedges and serve with ice cubes. Keep refrigerated.

For more information about rooibos and its many health benefits, visit www.sarooibos.co.za

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