Cultivating Nourishing Traditions with Your Children
– presented by SerendipiTea
Everyone seems to have childhood memories of sharing tea. The sound of the kettle hissing, baking cinnamon buns with mother; a flush of anticipation before sitting down to high tea with grandma and her fanciest dishes; the teddy bear tea party that marked the first day of spring. As the second-most consumed beverage in the world, behind water, it’s no wonder that tea and tea rituals have been an important element of childhood experience for so many, linking one generation to the next. Cultural and family traditions weave tea into our lives in countless ways. For some, tea time is a comforting daily ritual- the clanking of cups and saucers in the kitchen is the call to gather around the table and share the tales of the day. For others tea is more formal; the delicate dishes, careful preparation and attentiveness elevate the experience to an event. Even children create tea stories, urging us to become “Mrs. Nesbitt”, sample a cookie, take a sip from wobbly china cups overflowing with “tea” water. It seems that somehow these tea leaves, steeped and sipped, infuse our lives with all sorts of meaning.
Looking back on my own chaotic childhood in which tea was mostly absent, I remember feeling envious of children who had special occasions with the adults in their lives. I found myself caught up in stories of special tea parties with grandparents where the children got to be the adults, of a baking session where a carefully-guarded recipe was handed down to the next generation, or of a shared pot of tea, sipped all through the night, that made a heartache bearable. For me, those stories seemed to provide a clue about things that connect people to one another. Happily, by the time my own children were born I had already learned to slow down, nourish myself in body and spirit and take time to enjoy the pleasures of tea with friends and family. I began my own tea journey, borrowing some routines from other traditions, and creating new ones along the way.
The early years of tea with my children began with a pink tea set received by my two-year-old daughter as a gift. I let her lead the way into hours of tea party adventures with homemade snacks and furry friends. As she and her younger sister grew, we made herbal teas together to be shared with our dinner. Now, with my oldest grown and my younger daughter in middle school, we are busier than ever. But somehow, in the midst of it all, I still keep the lessons learned close to my heart. Tea is our every day way of nurturing ourselves and staying connected to one another. Introducing Teatime to Your Children If you haven’t done so already, it’s never too late to start your own traditions, sharing tea with family, friends and especially children. All of the little people in my life have begun their tea journeys with a variety of caffeine-free blends and tisanes. African Rooibos makes a fragrant base for my two favorites- “Strawberry Kisses” (think strawberries dipped in chocolate) and “Once Upon a Tea”, a heavenly blend of vanilla, chocolate and mint. And with names like these, who can resist? Whether you decide to make tea time an occasional celebration or a daily rhythm, these fragrant beauties are an ideal introduction. Setting aside a special time for tea is great way to get everyone in the family circle involved since it’s an occasion to slow down and take pleasure in each other’s company, but with children, don’t overlook spontaneity. Children don’t usually schedule their play time (and I don’t recommend trying to get them to) so opportunities can pop up at any time. Stay open to the idea of setting aside your laundry basket the moment your young child invites you to a teddy bear tea party. Lose yourself in the moment and go with it. The years go by fast, but the laundry will unfortunately still be there when the party ends, I promise. School aged children enjoy a calming tea at the end of the day to relax, unwind and share the triumphs and tribulations of the day. Consider delivering a warm cup of chamomile or lavender tea along with the evening bedtime story to almost guarantee a speedy trip to dreamland. The tender moments you create will make your child feel loved, safe and cared for. Sharing tea with children is not only fun, it’s an investment in their future happiness. I learned from experience it’s never too late and the rewards last a lifetime.