Archives for June 2009

Honoring the Power and Pleasure of Tea with Your Family

I look forward to hearing and seeing how your backyard campouts turned out, and we’ll plan to discuss that tomorrow.  While summer invites us outside to explore and play, it is also sometimes a season of extreme weather.  I know some of you are enduring many days of rain, while others (like my family) are finding it necessary to take shelter from sweltering heat in the afternoons.

When a long summer day offers the chance to slow down together as family, why not accept the invitation with a nice cup of tea?  I’ve asked my friend and passionate tea aficionado Trisha to share some ways tea can minister to your family – in the summer and all year-long:

teaAs a parent, you’re undoubtedly always looking for opportunities to foster your child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and social health. As a parent striving for simplicity in your home, discovering something that can cultivate all those areas (without adding strain to the pocketbook) is simply thrilling. Hold on to your many hats, because have I got a gem for you. You might not realize it, but you likely have this amazing treasure in your house right now; perhaps you just haven’t considered sharing it with your children yet. This impressive tool has the power to heal, educate, and build character if you simply introduce it to your kids’ world. Got tea? It does a family good.

Tea is a multi-tasking wonder for the parent who would like to prevent and treat life’s little ailments naturally. Drinking tea provides your children’s little bodies the same benefits it does your grown-up one. The vitamins and minerals in tea build strong blood vessels, aid digestion, and are essential for the development of strong teeth and bones. Consuming tea will also boost your young’uns immune system, so they don’t bring home every cough and sniffle. Regular tea drinking can alleviate symptoms of allergies, hay fever, and asthma. If tooth brushing is a struggle, you’ll be glad to know tea inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth associated with plaque formation, is an excellent source of fluoride, and can even be used as a mouth rinse to prevent tooth decay.

When minor maladies arise, tea can be your go-to “medicine.” Offer kids a warm cup of tea with a bit of honey for complaints of sore throats, stuffy noses, or upset tummies. Ginger and chamomile teas are wonderfully soothing, peppermint tea helps clear congestion, and red tea has antispasmodic properties that help relieve stomach cramps and even pacify colicky babies (I’ve known mothers to mix a little in with mama milk when needed.) Its soothing effect applies to external use as well. Apply a cool tea compress to diaper rash, eczema, or other skin irritations for relief. As a bonus, most teas do double duty: chamomile also aids sleep, peppermint also supports digestion, and red tea also stabilizes blood sugar. A little research will reveal a host of applications for each tea, allowing you get the most bang for your brew.

Tea also holds a wealth of educational opportunities, because its story involves much history and culture. Stimulate young minds with intellectual conversations about the social, political, and economical impact of tea around the world, or broaden their global perspective by learning about the various traditions and customs associated with drinking tea in different countries. All of this information has been neatly packaged in books geared for both youth and adults, and is also accessible via our beloved internet.  Incorporate it into hands-on activities, trivia games, or storytelling to appeal to kids and teens.

“Taking tea” together presents an excellent opportunity to engage in meaningful quality time and foster your precious relationship with your children. Tea parties can be a wonderful tradition in your home, creating lasting memories. Make it an anticipated event by including the kids in preparation. Set each place with a special cups and saucers from a thrift shop, toy store, or leftover party paperware. Bake a sweet recipe that includes tea in the ingredients, like these scrumptious Chamomile Lemon Squares from Pour your children’s favorite tea, and begin your party with a festive chorus of “I’m a little teapot”. While sipping, read from a storybook about tea, like Lady Ginny’s Tea Parties by Susan Rennick Jolliffe (perfect for a girly party) or Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee by Tony Mitton  (a playful story that will delight boys and girls). Tea parties also provide an occasion for your child to develop social skills and build important character qualities like hospitality and manners, especially when you invite friends and extended family.  A good resource to help you incorporate these aspects into your teatime is Children’s Tea and Etiquette: Brewing Good Manners in Young Minds by Dorothea Johnson.

Tea offers a simple way to enrich your family’s life in these areas and more. Smile, you’ve just hit the jackpot.

(A quick reminder:  always take care to let the tea cool significantly before offering it to a young child. Also, be sure that any boiling hot mugs or kettles are far from the reach of tiny hands eager for their favorite “medicine.”  For young children, I recommend sticking with herbal tisanes and decaffeinated teas. Herbals also contain low levels of tannin – the ingredient in black or green tea that inhibits absorption of iron – especially needed during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and early childhood development.)

Trisha is a wife, daughter, and sister who anticipates the day when she can add “mom” to her title. She is passionate about relationships, health, discovery, and natural living, and enthusiastically pursues a slew of hobbies including gardening, cooking, dancing, language, literature, and blogging about this mishmash of interests at ~~myOLIO~~.

(photo courtesy of siukankay)