As my nieces, nephews, and many of my friends’ children start back to school, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss kids and tea.
Throughout Asia, the Middle East, and certainly Britain, children begin drinking tea as a part of their daily diet as soon as they are able to consume drinks other than water. In fact, the U.S. is one of the few countries that doesn't raise children as regular tea-drinkers.
Many of our children are being raised on fruit juice and sodas instead. As research has shown, numerous issues such as obesity, diabetes, cavities, as well as behavioral problems such as aggression are associated with drinking these high sugared, high caffeinated drinks.
Tea on the other hand has shown numerous benefits including maintaining healthy weight, healthy blood pressure, preventing disease, preventing colds and flu and even cavity prevention! There is also a lot of research to suggest that regular tea drinking can help prevent diseases such as cancer as we age.
Even though a lot of parents know this, I’m always amazed at the number of parents who let their kids drink 2-3 sodas a day, but won’t let them have tea because “there’s too much caffeine.” I completely understand this concern, so I’d like to bring some clarification to this issue and perhaps open your eyes to the realization that tea just might be a better option than soda for your child.
The amount of caffeine in both soda and tea varies depending on the type. Yes, some teas are higher in caffeine than a can of soda (most often black teas) but it really depends on the drink. For example 12oz of Coke has 34mg of caffeine, while Mountain Dew has 54mg of caffeine. 12 ounces of green tea will usually not have more than 37mg of caffeine, while black tea can have up to 63mg. Caffeine levels in tea are affected by the season, the leaf varietal, where it was grown and whether or not it’s blended with anything. Tea has the added benefit of being sugar free and can even help your child concentrate and perform better in school!
In her post “Kids and Tea? You bet!” Author Michelle Rabin shares: Current research coming out of the UK by Tea Advisory Panel dietitian Dr. Carrie Ruxton has actually shown that giving children tea that contains a small amount of caffeine can help kids score better on tests that measure mental agility, attention, dexterity, and memory. “Tea makes a tiny contribution to caffeine intake compared with some soft drinks but when consumed in moderation it is likely to bring benefits associated with mood and cognition.”
So how much tea is ok? In that same article, Dr. Ruxton recommends limiting caffeine intake to 2-3 cups of tea per day for school age kids (over age 4) and no more than 2 cups of tea for kids under 4.
With all of the flavor options out there now from fruity, to spicy, to citrusy, to sweet, you’re sure to find a tea your child will enjoy. The next time you’re looking at drink options to fill your child’s lunchbox thermos consider a nice iced tea option such as Fresh Peach Mango; and when the days turn cold, warm them up with a delicious hot tea such as Rich Vanilla Chai.
If you’re still concerned about caffeine intake or have made a commitment to keep your child caffeine-free, consider herbal, Rooibos, or decaffeinated teas instead of sugary fruit juice or as an exciting alternative to water.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you allow your kids to have caffeine? Do they enjoy tea? If so, what flavors have you found most appealing to them?
Dezerai Seitzer is the owner and founder of Global Teas, a retail line of tea that gives people the opportunity to help change lives by donating $1 from every pouch of tea sold to a non-profit organization.