If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.

. . . . . Rachel Carson

Tea For Children

Amys-Photo-2Because I write children’s books and frequently give readings in tearooms and bookstores, I’m often asked about giving tea to young children. The question is usually phrased something like,

“At what age is it safe for children to drink tea?”

Of course, the concern is about caffeine and so, my usual response is not a numerical age but, rather, a comparison with other foods and beverages containing caffeine. Chocolate and cola.

Serving tea to children can be very healthy. We can control the strength of the caffeine by brewing a light cup. We can blend a black or green Camellia sinensis tea with other herbs. We can add milk. We can serve it with chunks of fresh fruit in the cup or glass. There are dozens of ways to make the actual beverage healthy — even for young children.

With that in mind, I found a recipe to share that incorporates tea with lovely chunks of fresh fruit and “dilutes” tea with hand-squeezed juice:

This recipe for Fruit Tea is from the blog, AnnCoo Journal.  I’ve made a few adjustments in the quantities – translating ml and grams to cups.

Fruit Tea

Fruit Tea 1
Ingredients:

  • 2 tea bags ~ Earl grey tea, Lipton tea or any English tea
  • 2 ½ cups boiled hot water
  • 1 red apple ~ diced but not peeled
  • 3-4 limes ~ extract juice from lime
  • 1 orange ~ extract juice from orange and strain
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 5-6 tbsp honey (to taste)

Directions:

Place tea bags into hot water for 2-3 minutes, discard tea bags.

Add diced red apple, lime juice, orange juice and dried cranberries to Earl grey tea and mix well.

Lastly add honey to taste and serve immediately or chill before serve.

 

Family Tea Times

IMG_0874I love to talk about families sharing tea and making it a special time of day. Fun and memorable. Traditions that are often passed down through the generations. Tea parties can celebrate new babies, birthdays, weddings, visits from grandparents and many other life events. The decor can be simple or over-the-top. Dress can be fancy or funny. And there are hundreds of flavorful brews to fill the pot and traditional recipes to fill the plates. 

The most important ingredient is that there be conversation. What better way can we lure children away from devices and programmed entertainment to share stories and memories and dreams?

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Inspiring The Sense of Wonder

What I really love about tea is the kind of magic we share when we include young children in brewing fresh leaves or include them in cultural ceremonies.

Tea-in-glass-infuserAn oolong tea infused in a glass mug with the leaves suspended in a glass insert. This is a great way to let children watch their tea leaves come back to life, see the tea liquor darken and smell the sweet fragrance of the brewing tea.

When we brew whole leaves in glass containers and children watch them rehydrate and return to life, they are fascinated in a way that is always fun. They love the stories of how the leaves are picked by hand and processed to press the leaf flat, to twist it in a spiral or roll it into a ball. They experience a connection with the people in other countries who created this lovely experience for them and frequently become lifelong tea drinkers.

It is my hope that drinking tea also inspires that sense of wonder and curiosity about everything they eat and drink. In my way of thinking, this may be one of the healthiest components of Camellia sinensis.

I also find that young children enjoy the small teacups that are more traditionally Chinese. Not is tea an opportunity to expand their experience and appreciation of world culture, it also adjusts the portion size and the expectation that their beverage should be super-sized.