Thursday, May 2, 2019

Getting Kids Interested In Tea

I've written a little bit about teaching kids about tea through tea parties, and as I watched my 9 year old son sip on a cup of chamomile tea, I realized I should post another article in this series. Kids are naturally curious about everything, and it's never too early to start teaching them about tea. There are so many interactive things they can get involved with to start forming a relationship with the leaf.

Tasting Tea
If the children are old enough to hold a cup independently, you can let them taste! Due to the caffeine I can't really promote giving them camellia sinensis to taste (but I admittedly give my kids sips of pure tea), but there are so many other things they can taste that will encourage their love of tea.

Herbal tisanes are perfect for kids. You can pick things that are fruity, sweet, and floral. Even if a tisane isn't naturally sweet, adding a little honey or other sweetener of choice is totally fine. I'd recommend having them try the brew without sweetener as well, so they can get an idea of what the infusion really tastes like.

The tasting process is really a lesson in mindfulness. The kids get to clear their mind, and focus on the flavors. Ask them what they are tasting, what it reminds them of, and how it makes them feel. You'll be amazed at the words they use to describe the brew. Children have a unique and unbiased perspective.

To get them even more involved, consider growing your own herbs that are great for teas. The kids can help your herbs and flowers grow, pick them when ready, and learn how to brew the tea. This is a great way to get your kids involved in the entire seed to cup process! Herbs such as mint, lemon verbena, and lemongrass are easy to grow and make great tea, and there are so many others.

Learning About Tea Rituals
Once children are a little older (around 1st grade), it's fun to teach them about tea rituals. Cultural tea practices such as gongfu cha, british afternoon tea service, and Japanese chanoyu are just a few ways of combining social studies with tea. I've done a few classes at my daughter's school on tea rituals around the world, and the kids are always fascinated. I love how many hands go in the air when I ask questions!

Let's take the Chinese gongfu tea preparation as an example. To get my kids started with gongfu preparation, I explained a little bit about the process and history, and we watched a few brewing videos on YouTube.

whole dried chamomile flowers in the gaiwan

The most exciting (and frustrating) part is learning how to use a gaiwan. To find a tisane for my children to try brewing in a gaiwan, I looked for something with fairly large pieces. I wanted to prevent too many bits escaping into the sharing pitcher and creating more frustration. Many large leaf herbs would work, but I settled on whole chamomile flowers, since they are fun to look at and taste sweet. The large size of the flowers are easier to keep in the gaiwan and out of the sharing pitcher.

Teaching the gongfu tea method to my son turned out to have a second benefit, which is dexterity. My son has issues with motor skills, and learning how to hold and pour a gaiwan has been a fun way to get him to use his hands. I selected a small gaiwan that holds about 60ml. It's inexpensive and easy for a small hand to hold.

As you can see from the first photo in this post, I started the practice by having my son place his hand on top of mine, to get a feel for the movement of holding and pouring a gaiwan. He's still not pouring independently, but he loves the process and he's learning yet another important skill, patience.

These are just a few ways to get your kids more interested in tea. Whatever ways you choose to, it'll be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. You'll open their minds to new flavors and experiences, and they get to learn about different cultures. They'll even learn a little bit about themselves along the way.


  1. What a beautiful post, Sara! As an educator, I love the idea of sharing the cultural aspects of tea with your children and their classmates, and the development of fine motor skills--and patience--using a gaiwan. You reminded me of my daughter gathering rose hips years ago to make tea. She was so proud of taking charge of the process. Maybe that's when her love of tea started:)

    Thanks for sharing this.


    1. Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!! I love the image of your daughter gathering rose hips for tea :)