By Prof. Moses Galukande

Beverage simply means a drink other than water. Although there are several, tea and coffee are most popular nonalcoholic beverage globally.

After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. Tea is made by pouring hot water over cured tea leaves. This popular beverage can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can bring different health benefits. Tea plants mostly grow in Asia, but tea is enjoyed in many countries around the world.

There are over 3000 varieties of tea, each with its own specific characteristics. The naming and growing of teas is in many ways similar to wine. Just as Bordeaux wine is named after the Bordeaux region in France many teas are also named after the area they are grown in.

The other popular hot beverage is coffee, though Ugandans do more tea than coffee.

Some history of the most popular nonalcoholic beverages

Tea: The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some.

Coffee: The history of coffee begins in legend. According to one legend, ancestors of today’s Oromo people in a region of Jimma in Ethiopia were the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant. A one Kaldi in Ethiopia in  the 9th-century discovered the stimulating effect of coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant goes another legend, probably both of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.

Is there any danger of taking hot beverages?

Yes , danger number one ; Whether you are preparing, serving, or drinking a hot beverage, scalds can occur as a function of exposure time and temperature of the liquid.

When I was growing up tea was served hot, and if not piping hot the older family members would ask for it to be rewarmed or rather re- boiled.

In some countries including China, Iran and those in South America, where teas such as the bitter herbal infusion mate are traditionally drunk at extremely high temperatures — above 65 or 70 degrees Celsius.

Danger number two; There is also some evidence that longstanding consumption of “very hot” beverages (60 degrees Celsius and above may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Oesophageal cancer is cancer of the food pipe. It is one of the cancers the difficult cancers to successfully treat.  Whereas hot beverages are not the number one risk factor, it should be avoided. In 2016, the World Health Organization issued a report that found; drinking “very hot” beverages of any kind could potentially raise the cancer risk, and it classified them as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Advice on hot beverages

While there are plenty of reasons to enjoy drinking tea or any other beverage, you may want to let that piping hot beverage cool down a bit before you take a sip.

How do I know it is that hotter than recommended without dipping a thermometer in my cup at table?

In general, hot water is 54 Celsius or above. Warm water is 32 to 43C. Cold water is generally between 15 and 27 C.

If you want to form a very rough idea of whether water is cold, lukewarm, or hot, first hold your hand above the water. If you feel heat radiate off of the water, it is hotter than recommended and may burn you. If you feel no heat, the water will either be room-temperature or cold.

What are the advantages of taking acceptably hot tea or water?

Drinking water, hot or cold, keeps your body healthy and hydrated. Some people claim that warm water specifically can help improve digestion, relieve congestion, and even promote relaxation, compared with drinking cold water.

How hot are the beverages when served?

Often times, in commercial places or even homes hot beverages are served at temperatures near their brewing temperature; far hotter than recommended.

A more rationale practice is to let them sit for a while to cool before serving them.

What to do after hot beverages are served?

Mixing very hot beverages with cooler beverages. Even small amounts of mixing can have significant effects. For instance, cooled coffee could be mixed into a hot, freshly brewed coffee to reduce temperature without dilution. Alternatively, milk, creamer, or other cooler liquids could be added as appropriate.

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