When it’s snowing outside, there’s nothing more comforting than a mug full of something hot and steamy warming your hands, smoldering on your lips, and thawing you down to your toes.

When I was a kid, I conducted a lot of tea parties with my sisters and our dolls. My mom had a set of Bigelow tea tins, including Constant Comment, English Teatime, and Lemon Lift. It made us feel very sophisticated, and laid the foundation for my love of a toasty cup of tea. As an adult, I have branched out into making my own chai concentrate (available via Coffee Roboto), crafted a decadent hot cocoa mix, and learned the nuances of brewing a great cup of coffee. Each of these hot drinks cultivates its own comfort level and serves its own purpose in my daily life. Here are a few reasons why hot drinks naturally tend to soothe and cheer us.

First, drinking something hot slows you down. After a long day on snowshoes or skis, this is a welcome relief, as well as a precursor to your body relaxing and releasing tension from all that exertion. It can even give you a break in the midst of a stressful day, allowing time to reflect and calm your mind.

Hot drinks have been shown to be therapeutic. First, the warmth, as well as some herbal teas, honey, and lemon, can be soothing on a sore throat. Teas and coffees have a slight flushing effect, helping your body remove toxins and pursue healing more effectively. But the craziest thing is that drinking a hot beverage can also be cooling. If you are sweaty hot and you drink a hot drink, it turns up your sweat flow, causing you to end up cooler than before. Of course, they also warm us up when we are chilled to the core.

Some psychologists also speculate that the warmth of a hot chocolate or hot toddy subconsciously reminds us of early parental affection and nurturing, perhaps even from the womb. Regardless, there is very little in life that can’t be assuaged with a toasty cup of something. Just ask the British.

Most drinks, especially coffee, taste best when sipped at your body’s natural temperature. I always tend to burn my tongue in my eagerness to drink my tea or coffee, and then I can’t taste anything at all for about five minutes. I am always rewarded when I slow down and give my drink a moment to find its heart and flavor. Let me encourage you to revel in the slowness and comfort that your favorite hot beverage brings you and use those few moments to be thankful for tea leaves, coffee beans, crushed apples, funky cacao pods, and the herbs that help us stay vibrant and energetic on the slopes, trails, and ice. //