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Shanghai is famous for its swampy summer weather, and although this August was the coolest in 14 years, it’s still hot and humid out there as we head into Indian summer. Staying hydrated against the rising mercury is crucial if you’re out hunting a meal of street food, so here are the best sips to keep your yin and yang balanced this season.

Mia’s Green Apple Mint Juice
This neighborhood Yunnan specialty restaurant takes bold flavors from southwest China and elevates them in simple combinations. In many of their noodle and main dishes, mint features prominently – there is even a salad composed entirely of mint leaves that will leave you wondering why anyone is even bothering with iceberg lettuce. By supercharging fresh apple juice with a fistful of pressed mint leaves, Mia’s makes the idea of a juice cleanse just a teensy bit more appealing.

Mansion Hotel’s Longjing Green Tea
Tempting as it may be to reach for a cold glass of iced tea on a hot day, it’s actually a better idea to stick to warm beverages. Due to its unprocessed and unfermented state, green tea has a substantial amount of caffeine, which helps stimulate the body to transform fat into energy and for the body to sweat slightly, which in turns cools skin temperature. Seriously, the science checks out.

Have a pot of warm afternoon tea at the Mansion Hotel in the peaceful former French Concession. Once the playground of notorious gangster Du Yuesheng during the heyday of opium dealing, the hotel lobby and front courtyard today provide an inexpensive afternoon tea spot away from tourist hordes, set in a lovely, historic setting replete with bubbling fountains. Opt for a pot of the area’s famed Longjing green tea from nearby Hangzhou. It’s not the Peninsula’s famous (and pricy) high tea, but the quiet setting makes it a great affordable warm-weather alternative.

Sumerian Café’s Nitro
These coffee brewmasters always have new tricks up their sleeve. Their latest creation has proved so popular, their biggest problem has been figuring out a way to make batches big enough to keep up with demand. Not for the faint of heart (seriously – make sure you don’t have a heart condition), the Nitro is a 24-hour cold-brewed coffee that is then kegged, lightly carbonated and charged with “beer gas” during filtration. It’s served cold on tap in their recently renovated café, and tastes a bit like a rich coffee-Guinness. We felt the caffeine hitting us well before we reached halfway down the cup. If you’re into that, well, the Nitro may just boost your morning into oblivion.

Urban Thai’s Iced Tea
Urban Thai likes to claim they make the best Thai iced tea in town, and they’re right on the money. And since Thailand’s temperatures are higher than Shanghai’s year-round, you know this is good for your heat index (if not your blood sugar). Urban Thai’s recipe is, of course, secret, but the mother-daughter restaurateurs have just opened a second spot to serve the black tea sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, so now you have double the chances to indulge your sweet tooth and slake your thirst. They offer takeout cups but their “best in town” motto extends to several Thai dishes, so we advise you to eat in.

C Duo Duo, photo by UnTour ShanghaiC Duo Duo’s Yakult Smoothies
Milk tea purveyor Coco and overly saccharine Happy Lemon “juice” stands are everywhere around town, but we’re suckers for C Duo Duo’s inventive drinks. The Taiwanese chain offers all the same bubble teas as the other guys, but their namesake is a Yakult-based smoothie with frozen fruit. We’re also addicted to the probiotic-rich mango duoduo (芒果多多, mángguǒ duōduō) or the kiwi option (奇异果多多, qíyìguǒ duōduō). And on that note, here’s a bit of trivia for your next dinner party: Kiwi is native to China, not New Zealand.

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Published on September 08, 2014

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