Should kids drink tea? It’s a question that gets tossed around a lot and it doesn’t have a one-size fits all answer.

Before exploring this issue, some definitions are in order. Tea, strictly speaking, is a beverage made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which means that it usually contains caffeine. Herbal teas, more properly referred to as tisanes or infusions, typically do not contain caffeine.

The next point that merits looking into is what is a child, or more specifically, what age group are we referring to when we say child? Most people will tend to hold to a different standard for a fifteen-year-old child than they do for a two year old. Ultimately, the best bit of advice, as with any health-related concerns you have about your child, is to consult a doctor.

Having said that, it’s probably also safe to say that for any child older than a toddler, tea, in moderation, is not a bad thing. The UK Tea Council, not surprisingly, agrees with this notion and has put together an article devoted to children and tea drinking.

In a time when the consumption of heavily sugared and caffeinated sodas is common, tea might be the lesser of two evils. Parents who don’t think twice about giving kids caffeinated sodas might do better to introduce them to tea. Even if it’s real tea and not a tisane, the caffeine content is not much more than soda and, except with bottled teas, lacks the sugar or high fructose corn syrup that have made soda consumption a matter of controversy in recent years.

Of course, whether or not children are likely to be fond of tea is another matter entirely and may have a lot to do with what they’ve grown accustomed to. A child (or an adult, for that matter) who’s become used to heavily sweetened, flavored sodas and other beverages may be a hard sell when it comes to drinking tea.

For more thoughts on children and tea consumption take a look at this thread at the TeaChat forum. For more on caffeine and kids, look here and here and at this article, which suggests that caffeine has a greater effect on boys than girls. On the flip side of this issue is an article that suggests that caffeinated drinks can benefit health and that school aged kids “can consume up to 95mg a day of caffeine.”

Make sure to check out Tea Guy Speaks, William’s blog.

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