Either in China or in the West, often I met parents who were proud that their child can either make tea or drink tea at the young age, sometime even at the age of 3. This reminds me the teaching from my mother when I was about 8 years old when I was responsible to prepare tea for my father and mother in the weekend, but at that time my Mom dis-allowed me to drink tea. I could only sometimes have a zip of it, but never drank strongly brewed tea.
So, one day I came out with the “Why” question to my Mom why I might not drink tea, because it’s so attempting by its fine flavors when I made tea for them.
Even though my Mom was not a tea master or doctor, but she has very good common sense about healthy diets based on her learnings on the fundamental principles for health based on the Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) from her mother and grand mother, so here is what she said to me:
During the growing period, children need to have a lot of calcium and nutrients, so it is better to keep your body sober and clean as possible. In tea there are Tea Tannin and others that might affect the conditions to the stomach and could influence to digestion, particular during the developmental phase.
So, I was only allowed to drink tea at the age of 12.
Now when it comes to the subject if tea is good for young children, here is the summary of suggestions based on several researche reports found in China:
- Tea contains substances such as theophylline, which can easily cause excitement in the central nervous system, infant and young children are still in the developmental stage, and each nervous system has a weaker ability to inhibit substances with excitatory effects.
- The tea contains tannic acid and theophylline. When these two ingredients enter the body, they will potentially inhibit the absorption of some nutrients such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Excessive drinking of tea or drinking tea may lead to a lack of nutrients in the body and even malnutrition.
- In general, tea has diuretic function. After drinking tea, the process of diuresis, tannic acid and theophylline can also cause the loss of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus for young children (this is what my Mom was talking about), which is not conducive to the absorption of iron and can even easily cause iron deficiency anemia . That might affect the absorption of nutrients
- Avoid giving tea to children younger than 6, give selected tea, either caffeine-free infusion, or aged tea or very lightly brewed tea, to children over 6 and younger than 12.
Either to children or for adult, there are my simple suggestions for daily tea:
- Alter the selection of tea drink according to the change of season
- Avoid drinking strong tea
- Avoid drinking fresh tea
- Keep the brewing as light as possible
- Limit the drinking quantity per day
- Have a glass of water in between tea drinks
Pregnant women certainly should avoid drinking strong tea, not only it’s susceptible to anemia, but also not conducive to the absorption of other nutrients. The stimulation of having too much Tea Tannin (Caffeine) can accelerate heart rate, increase urination and burden on heart and kidney. Tea does stimulates many health benefits, but drinking too much non-sense blending, or contains aromatic or coloring addictive substance might hidden the health. But the fault is not from the tea itself, but it is because people do not know what to select and how to drink tea.
We do, however, can train young children the techniques of brewing and serving tea, because it helps to start the respectful and disciplined behaviors training at the younger age.