Southeast Asian fruit is renowned for its diversity of sizes, shapes and flavours, but there are some foods known to naturally cool down the body, combining great taste with a healthy boost of energy and rehydration. Grabbing a juice or tea in the heat of the day can help you keep cool in the to season sunshine.
Thai New Year, which is celebrated from 12 - 16 April, coincides with the hottest days of the year. Temperatures can rise to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which may be ideal for laundry lovers and sun tanners, but the heat can affect daily enjoyment, not to mention cause dehydration and heat stroke.
Zoos around the country take note of the mercury rising and have introduced interesting measures to keep their animals cool, including hanging food over a pond so the tigers will be inclined to splash in the water. For humans meanwhile, air-conditioning might be the saving grace for most the season, but another Thai and pan-Asian belief worth looking into is using of food to regulate body temperature.
In Thailand, certain food items are believed to be inherently "hot", "cold", of "neutral" — not on a sweat/shiver level, but on a deeper level of yin/yang energy. Here is a list of cool foods that are omnipresent around Thailand. Give them a go. After all, even if the sweltering heat remains the same, you will still have the weekend water fight to look forward to.
1. Coconut juice
Readily available in the tropics, young coconut juice is the go-to rehydration drink of choice for much of the population. Though almost a cliche drink for foreign visitors, along with the mandatory single orchid flower for decoration, the drink is as beloved with locals as it is with tourists, the majority of whom retrieve the nuts from the palm trees that dot the region's tropical landscape. Its magic is in its electrolyte content, a natural concoction of magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium. Coconuts come fresh or toasted, the latter identifiable by its traces of a charred shell and preferred by some for its more aromatic taste. Coconut shakes are also an ideal way to cool off, with the addition of ice and coconut skin making it a perfect on-the-beach beverage. With its replenishing qualities, coconut juice is also an excellent morning remedy to offset going (coco)nuts at the bar the night before.
2. Chrysanthemum tea
Another popular body coolant, which is found at many local restaurants and commonly stocked at convenience stores too, is a yellowish herbal tea made from small yellow and orange Chrysanthemum flowers. The herbal infused tea gives off a light floral fragrance, which is further exaggerated with the addition of a little sweetener. Chrysanthemum tea is known for cooling the internal organs, detoxifying the blood, and soothing the digestive system, making it an ideal accompaniment for greasy food on a hot day, and also another good morning-after tonic following a particularly heavy drinking session.
3. Bael fruit tea
Also known as wood apple, the tea made from the dried bale fruit has, as the name suggests, a woody fragrance. The tea can be enjoyed hot or cold, and is renowned for its cooling properties as well as antimicrobial properties for the gastrointestinal system. The tea, brownish in colour, is usually accompanied with a cross section slice of the dried bale fruit.
4. Mangosteen juice
In Thailand, the mangosteen is considered the "Queen of Fruits", a cool queen to counter the "King of Fruits", the durian which is considered hot in nature. In addition to reducing inflammation and cooling the insides, mangosteen juice is a source of vitamins and antioxidants, combating free radicals that may otherwise destroy the body's cellular functions. Mangosteen juice is generally found ready-made to be consumed as a refreshing cold drink, and features a distinctive purple tinge from the fruit rind.
5. Asiatic pennywort juice
Pennywort juice is touted for a whole range of medicinal effects, ranging from anti-inflammatory to antibacterial. For lack of a better word, the decoction tastes very "green", and is therefore loved by some but despised by others. Pennywort juice is slightly more difficult to find than the other cooling beverages in this list, but for aficionados, the "green" drink gives even coconuts a run for their refreshing money.