There are several good reasons to introduce kids to drinking tea. One of the most important is that a “Tea Time” together with a parent or another caring adult makes for a lovely ritual that can serve to foster healthy attachment. Why is this so important?
In this age of electronic distraction, we need to look for ways to really be present with our kids. At any given moment, either we or our child are likely checking email, checking in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, playing online Scrabble or talking on the phone. We need to make sure that we book time for special closeness and real connection with our kids on a regular basis.
Sharing tea or coffee is something adults do together to provide a format for a moment of connection, to talk about things light or serious, to connect with someone new to us or to open our hearts a little and receive emotional nourishment from someone we love. Try an occasional (or regular) tea time to invite your kids to talk to you about their day or anything that is on their mind. If you find it hard to organize frequent family sit-down meals, a tea time ritual can stand in for at least part of that important activity.
Another important reason to get kids accustomed to drinking tea is that it is an easy way to serve up herbs that are good for them! Some herbal teas are really nutritious, and others can act like medicines when needed. A warm drink can be a very comforting thing emotionally, as well as being great for relaxing the stomach and intestines.
Finally, it’s good to get kids used to drinking something tasty, but not at all like sweet drinks that are marketed to children. If you start them early, teas help refine their tastebuds and can help avoid relying on less healthy drinks like fruit juice and soda that play havoc with blood sugar levels and disrupt mood and energy.
Any of the following teas can be sweetened with honey (over 12 months of age only), stevia extract or a little plain fruit juice like apple or cran-raspberry. Milk, almond milk and rice milk may also be added if desired.
Nettle (stinging nettle, urtica) is one of the most nutritious herbs on the planet. A litre of nettle infusion contains 1200 mg of calcium, the recommended daily adult dose. Herbalist Susun Weed suggests drinking 3 cups every day for its outstanding mineral profile and “bio-availability”. On its own, nettle is not a really attractive taste, but if you drink it often, your body will recognize the amazing nutritional content and you start to actually crave it!
I suggest adding some Peppermint to any herbal teapot to appeal to little tastebuds. Peppermint is great for tummy aches, gas and bloating, also for cough and colds or allergies. It is good for balancing energy, so it relaxes but also gives a boost when needed. It tastes great and you can have it any time.
Hibiscus tea is a beautiful red colour and tastes very sweet. You can make it on its own or add a little to other teas for the colour and sweetness.
Linden tea is very calming and makes a nice evening or bedtime tea. It has a mild taste that is OK on its own.
Chamomile tea has been used for children since long before Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him a dose for tummy ache and a bad fright.! It is a great calming herb and is used for many kinds of pains including teething as well as for relaxing an overactive nervous system.
Fennel tea is well known for calming an upset or gassy tummy, and even for colic in babies. Gently boil a teaspoon of fennel seeds in about a cup of water in a covered pot for 15 minutes. Strain out the seeds and cool until just warm.
Ginger tea is a great thing for a cold, flu or sore throat. Peel a marble size piece of ginger and slice. Simmer the slices in 1-2 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Add some lemon juice and raw honey to taste. Ginger tea can be quite strong so you might need to add water as well. Raw honey is an extremely good anti-bacterial agent, so it works well to help kill germs as well as soothe a sore throat.
Tumeric tea is one of my great favourites for wintertime. You can make up about half a cup of the paste to keep in the fridge and then just pour boiling water over a spoonful when you want to drink it, adding a milk of your choice. Make a paste of 1/4 cup tumeric powder and 1/4 cup of water and cook on low-medium heat. As it thickens, keep adding water and cook for 7-8 minutes. I often add some cinnamon or cardamom while cooking the paste to add to the flavour, and then honey, maple syrup or stevia to sweeten.
To make a nice alternative to hot chocolate, heat a teaspoon of the above tumeric paste in a saucepan and whisk in a cup of any kind of milk until it’s warm. Hint for grownups: add a sprinkle of black pepper to improve absorption of the anti-inflammatory properties of the tumeric.
Rooibos tea is caffeine free and can be taken alone or blended with one of the above herbs to enhance the flavour. Experiment with any of these and you’re sure to find one that your child will enjoy, especially if they get to share tea time with you!