One of my education/mothering goals is to have a daily tea time. I honestly haven’t even wanted to try, the thought seeming overwhelming and difficult to execute. As a friend was posting about her amazingly successful and awesome tea times with her own children, I begged her to give us a guest post.
May you be as inspired as I am!!
Guest Post Written by: Kim Martinez
Our Favorite Time of Day
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
Around 3:00 PM, on most days of the week, my children and I enjoy our afternoon tea. After a busy morning and an afternoon nap we come together to talk about our day’s blessings over a “cuppa” and a small sweet. My children and I look forward to this time each day. We use this hour to work on our manners and conversation, to slow down and prepare for all that the rest of our day may hold. It is a sweet and precious time.
For our daily tea ritual there are a few items of necessity: a tea pot, tea cups, a bowl of sugar, a small pitcher of milk (we are dairy-free, so we use Almond milk), spoons for stirring, saucers or small plates, a tablecloth or pretty piece of fabric (maybe not for every tea time, but I try) and a sweet treat.
I will start with the last and here is the secret: I prepare the treat in advance and have it ready to serve. Some days it is as simple as homemade bread, toasted with strawberry jam, or a slice of banana bread with whipped honey butter, and other times we delight in an indulgence of pound cake, or scones (my favorite recipe is actually vegan), or butter cookies. Most of these items keep for a week or freeze for longer, so all I have to do is pull them out and place them on the plate. I do my baking primarily on the weekend and am better prepared for the week’s tea this way.
My fancy saucers and plates, tea cups and pot, bowl for sugar and pitcher for milk have all been either given to us or purchased at estate sales for next to nothing. I just can’t bring myself to spend $30 on a tea pot, no matter how pretty and delicate it may be. I have tea with my children and need to remember that things may break while they are in gentleness training. One item I do not yet have, and would like to acquire, are specific for tea silver spoons. They are smaller than our regular tea spoons and quite elegant in their petite-ness. For now we just use our everyday tea spoons that came with my flatware set.
To prepare our table I lay the special table cloth (if using) across the table, set out our treats on plates, fill my milk pitcher and sugar bowl, grab the cups and brew our tea. We have a Keurig so I just place my pot under the spout and use the largest setting twice to fill up my pot with hot water. I add 3-4 tea bags, depending on the strength of the tea, and let it steep for 5 minutes. Any longer and the tea will taste bitter and will not be enjoyable for the little ones. Our favorite tea right now is by Tazo and is an organic rooibos vanilla tea. We also enjoy decaffeinated Lady Grey, orange blossom herbal tea, passion tea or Trader Joe’s Harvest blend herbal tea (only available seasonally). It takes me maybe 10-15 minutes to do everything. When the children are up from their naps, they help me set the table (which basically involves them moving the prepared dishes from the counter to the table).
Once that task is complete we all sit down together (all technology is OFF) and I am “mother” and pour the tea for my children. Just the simple task of pouring the tea always reminds me of Mark 10:45 which reads, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Serving my children is a blessing and I hope an example to them of God’s great love and sacrifice. We then proceed in conversation, talking about their favorite thing that we have done that day, discussing the plans for the remainder of the day, rejoicing over God’s goodness towards our family and addressing any table etiquette issues that may arise. My sweet, almost 4-year-old, son let a burp slip out the other day and immediately says, “Uh-oh, I know I am not supposed to burp at tea-time. It just came out. Excuse me!” I have found that the gentleness and quietness of teaching manners during a tea break produces much more fruit than my nagging tongue speaking endless reminders throughout the day. We keep our conversation simple and pleasant. This would also be a wonderful time to read some psalms, poetry or do a short devotion and discuss how it speaks to their heart. The children’s age and maturity should be taken into consideration on how to best utilize this time. Mine are still little; almost 6, almost 4 and 2. Manners are a required habit for them to learn at this stage.
And really that is all there is to our tea break: some tea, a sweet, conversation and table etiquette! We spend anywhere from 30-60 minutes relishing in the slow pace and quietness of this time. We clear the table and move on to the afternoon’s work which usually involves household chores, preparing dinner, and, when possible, some time outdoors. Daddy comes home (hopefully before bedtime), we eat together (when possible), get ready for bed, do our family devotion, say prayers and kids are off to dreamland. Whew!! The morning hours before lunch and nap are even more busy, so our tea break between is so incredibly cherished by us all. I encourage you to try doing a tea break just once a week and see how your family responds. I hope and pray that you will find yourself and your children blessed by it!
Benefits of Tea Time:
- Opportunity to work on manners
- Designated conversation time
- Opportunity to really enjoy serving your children
Supplies you need:
- a tea pot
- tea cups
- a bowl of sugar
- a small pitcher of milk (we are dairy-free, so we use Almond milk),
- spoons for stirring,
- saucers or small plates,
- a tablecloth or pretty piece of fabric (maybe not for every tea time, but I try)
- a sweet treat.
- Prepare treat ahead of time
- Check yard sales for inexpensive tea time items
- Steep your tea for a short amount of time. (more appealing to little taste buds)
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