This tradition is probably quite obvious to the millions of Russian readers of this blog but I actually heard about this first time in my thirties when I visited Russian Banya in Carrollton for the first time and saw some Russian customers pouring tea from a samovar.
A Finnish man should never show any sign of hesitance regarding anything in a close proximity of a sauna so instead of finding out, why would someone in their right mind drink a hot drink while in a hot sauna or while trying to cool down between the sessions, I just decided to try this and it worked surprisingly well.
After thorough research (one Bing search and two Google searches), it turns out that the reason might be that the tea would make you sweat easier in sauna. I personally do not have any problems for not sweating in sauna. Another page explained that tea would help you to keep your body warm between the sauna sessions. That also sounds a bit counter-intuitive if you actually left the steam room to cool down. But as my good Russian friends always tell: in Russia nothing works but everything gets sorted out.
In any event, I sometimes enjoy a warm cup of tea between my sauna sessions just to keep this tradition alive, whether this tradition makes any sense or not. After all, traditions are not always supposed to make sense. It is generally a good idea to call something a tradition, if it actually doensn’t make sense or if you have already forgotten why you do something. Just because “we have always done this” is a legitimate reason for any action.
One pro tip to share is that tea is often very hot and you may easily pour too much honey in your cup. Luckily, the Russians have invented a perfect solution for this problem. It is another liquid made of potato and it works perfecly as a hybrid unsweetener and unburner-of-your-tongue solution that mixes well with tea. Ваше здоровье!