What better gift can we give our children than a deep appreciation for the natural world and healthy habits?
There is truly no better way to introduce a child to the world of healing plants than through a simple cup of tea. Nothing compares to the joy of brewing a cup of healing herbs with your little one and watching their tiny fingers lace around the cup and their smile widen as they experience the delight to their senses. With a few gentle and nourishing herbs that also taste good, even the pickiest child can find pleasure in a cup of tea.
The key is to find herbs that have a pleasant flavor and a gentle nature, and to not steep the tea too long or it may become bitter. These are some of our family’s personal favorites. You can try any of these herbs on their own or combine them for flavor combos. Get the kids in on it! They love the sensory experience of mixing herbs with their tiny fingers.
Here is the basic recipe for any of these herbs
1 Tbsp of herb
1 8 oz cup of freshly boiled water
Steep for 10 minutes, remove herbs and allow to cool (or add an ice cube for extra eager kiddos).
To make a cold tea simply follow these instructions and then place the brewed tea in the fridge to cool for a couple hours. When its done, pour it over ice and enjoy (for a bonus freeze edible flowers into your ice cubes)!
If you would like to sweeten it or add cream, feel free! We like to use a little maple syrup or honey and a dash of almond milk.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Gentle enough even for infants, this ultimately soothing herb is an ideal first herb for little ones. Its scientific name (Matricaria) nods to its use by mothers throughout the centuries. Chamomile even gains mention in the story of Peter Rabbit, whose mother puts him to bed with a cup of chamomile tea after one of his escapades in Mr. McGregor’s garden.
Physiologically chamomile is soothing to the nervous system and the stomach. It is an especially helpful ally for babies with colic or children who are prone to belly aches associated with worry.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is my daughter’s personal favorite herb. After 3 years of drinking it as a tea she will now go into the garden and pick its leaves to munch as she goes along. The flavor is fruity and slightly sweet, sort of like the "fruity pebbles" of the herbal world.
Lemon Balm, also sometimes called Melissa, is another calming herb for the nervous system and soothing herb for the digestive tract. Lemon Balm is a perfect for any time you want to imbibe your day with sunny, joyful vibes.
Mint (Menta spp)
Most folks are familiar with the sweet and cool taste of mint. There are plenty of varieties of mint, peppermint happens to our family’s favorite go to for teatime. It also happens to make an excellent iced tea when combined with lemon balm.
Mint is another soother for the digestive system that is invigorating and cooling. It makes a good tea to sip cold on hot days or warm if there is a cold with a fever. It also makes an excellent tea to enjoy after lunch or dinner.
There are many other gentle and nourishing herbs that are safe for children, these just happen to be our family favorites. I’d love to hear your personal experiences or recipes for sharing herbs with kids.