Children are resilient little beings.  If you are a senior citizen like myself, you cringe when your thirty- or forty-something children tell you about the risks they took in childhood while you thought they were building character at summer camp.  You had such a peaceful retirement before you learned the oldest was stranded above a raging glacial gorge in a cable-car at age 14. You could have happily lived another 35 years not knowing about the time the youngest snuck out of the house, “borrowed” your car, and drove to a notorious hot springs forty miles south – a hot springs rumored to be so teeming with bodily fluids that one could become impregnated after just a few minutes’ soak.

Tide pods sound positively tame at this point.

Given these revelations at a recent family gathering, I was amused to see an article debating the proper age to introduce your children to real tea.  The primary bone of contention is caffeine, not surprisingly.  Little bodies need nutrition and sleep to grow healthy and caffeine can interfere with both. Over my thirty-year teaching career, parents who just purchased a liter of Coca-Cola or a large Rock Star energy drink for their 15-year-old would often debate my Tea-on-Tuesday classroom practice as unhealthy for teens.

We simply must do a better job of educating folks on caffeine, theanine, and tisanes.  The article goes on to insist that children should be given only herbal teas – which aren’t teas.  Turns out that the caffeine level in that giant cola contains four times the caffeine as the FIRST steep of black tea!  This table from the Mayo Clinic makes that quite clear.

Unfortunately, the notion that “rinsing tea before steeping removes more than half of the caffeine” cannot be verified by science.  Decaf teas are making inroads into the market, but experienced tea drinkers find this to be a marketing ploy. Is it just me, or are the jitters from a cup of Americano much more pronounced than the lack of jitters I experience after drinking tea for hours every morning?

When should we introduce children to tea, the real thing?

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