Americans love their ice cold water. I think that we are one of the only, if not the only country that assumes a standard glass of water should be filled with ice. Restaurants are expected to place a glass of ice water in front of you as a complimentary welcome offering the moment you sit down. Advertisements for drinks are always sweating with perspiration because the contents inside are so refreshingly chilled. Our refrigerators often spout chilled water and ice right out of the door and if not, many have a water filter chilling inside.

I’m not against cold water, most of the year. But, during a Chicago winter, I have come to cringe at the prospect of wrapping my hand around a frigid glass and letting its icy contents cascade into my body. Though I drink my share of tea and coffee, I came to realize that I was not staying as hydrated in the winter months because I avoid cold liquids.

One of my friends and colleagues grew up in China. She never drinks cold water. Even in summer months, she fills her cup up from the refrigerator door spout in the office and then adds an inch or two of boiling water from the tea maker resulting in room temperature or even body temperature water. When I visited her house, she kept a thermos of hot water on the counter and repeatedly filled our mugs with plain hot water. I drank more water that day than I had in weeks. Clutching the warm mug was comforting and I didn’t miss the fact that it wasn’t tea or some other brewed beverage.

My husband grew up in Europe where they rarely put ice in water. There aren’t even ice makers in most houses. They have small trays or even segmented plastic bags like these that create just enough ice cubes to plunk one or two in a glass of soda or whiskey now and then. My husband’s family drinks quite a bit of tea and many of the household’s I’ve visited have electric hot water pots for quickly boiling water.

I’ve never coveted or even considered an electric kettle but I was excited when I discovered this ceramic hot water kettle. I thought it was pretty enough to live on the counter so we’ve been giving it a try. Surprisingly, we’ve been boiling 2-3 pots of water a day!  We boil water to make French press coffee, brew tea, and, I’ve adopted the habit of drinking hot or warm water out of mugs to stay hydrated. I know it sounds odd and so against what we are used to but I have come to love it.

If you can’t stand the idea of plain hot water, tea is the obvious option. I’ve also put slices of fresh lemon in the water and sometimes a spoon of local honey too. When the water runs low, I just continue to refill over the lemon slice.

In these driest of months, I’m finding that my skin is less itchy and scaly and my eyes just a little less wrinkly and dehydrated in the mornings. Consider going against the grain and sipping on hot water. It’s been a hydration revolution for me this winter!