March 10, 2011

Tea for baby

Our son is fascinated by our tea rituals, from steeping a tea bag to preparing a gaiwan.

Image: Three children at tea party, Japan [between 1890 and 1923] (source)

We know someone who gives her baby occasional sips of milky Earl Grey; they live in London. Several European companies produce fennel tea for babies and these teas appear to be popular in Germany. We saw several brands in markets in Munich.

Wanting to know if tea is recommended or not for young children, we conducted a search of research articles and books via Google. Diluted chamomile and fennel teas are recommended as intestinal relaxants or colic relievers by Dr Glade B. Curtis, M.D. and Judith Schuler, M.S. in Your Baby's First Year Week by Week. Herbal tea was given to babies per Okolo et al. (1999), "Current breastfeeding knowledge, attitude, and practices of mothers in five rural communities in the Savannah region of Nigeria," published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics (source). In an analysis of a 1994 Department of Health (UK) survey of infant feeding in Asia families, Watts (1994) found that when babies were "around 9-months old...twenty per cent of White babies drank tea or coffee at this age, compared with 6% of Indian, 3% of Pakistani and 1% of Bangladeshi babies" (source). Our search also revealed websites that decried giving tea to babies.

When we searched for afternoon tea service for children, maximum ages were given, not minimums. For example, the Time Out New York Kids afternoon tea services for children list includes
  • Alice's Tea Cup Wee Tea for children under 10 years old. The teas are herbal and fruit infusions.
  • Bemelman's Bar (The Carlyle) Madeline Tea for children under 3 is $20!
  • The Russian Tea Room Children's Tea for children under 13 years of age. Like Alice's Tea Cup, the menu lists herbal and fruit infusions.
Disclaimer: We do not know when it is safe to give your baby or child tea. Consult with your pediatrician.


  1. Our 7-year old really enjoys a milky, decaf chai on weekend mornings. It's more the ginger and sweetness that she craves than the tea.

    Though all our kids dislike green and oolong teas, they will enjoy a sip here and there of a black tea.

  2. I can see a child liking chai -- those sweet, warm spices!

  3. Love that photo! And very interesting research.

    I just picked up this book from the library, have not had a change to look at it yet:
    Meant for older children than your son, but looks pretty fun!
    -jen english

  4. Jen, thanks for the comment and the link to Tea Ceremony by Shozo Sato. Unfortunately Sato's book is not in the NYPL catalogue. Would you like to write a review for Notes on Tea?


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