Previous studies have reported an association between hot tea drinking and risk of esophageal cancer, but no study has examined this association using prospectively and objectively measured tea drinking temperature. We examined the association of tea drinking temperature, measured both objectively and subjectively at study baseline, with future risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in a prospective study. We measured tea drinking temperature using validated methods and collected data on several other tea drinking habits and potential confounders of interest at baseline in the Golestan Cohort Study, a population-based prospective study of 50,045 individuals aged 40–75 years, established in 2004–2008 in northeastern Iran. Study participants were followed-up for a median duration of 10.1 years (505,865 person years). During 2004–2017, 317 new cases of ESCC were identified. The objectively measured tea temperature (HR 1.41, 95% CI 1.10–1.81; for ≥60 degrees C vs. <60 degrees C), reported preference for very hot tea drinking (HR 2.41, 95% CI 1.27–4.56; for “very hot” vs. “cold/lukewarm”), and reported shorter time from pouring tea to drinking (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.01–2.26; for <2 vs. ≥6 min) were all associated with ESCC risk. In analysis of the combined effects of measured temperature and amount, compared to those who drank less than 700 ml of tea/day at <60 degrees C, drinking 700 mL/day or more at a higher-temperature (≥60 degrees C) was consistently associated with an about 90% increase in ESCC risk. Our results substantially strengthen the existing evidence supporting an association between hot beverage drinking and ESCC.