Steaming pots are set, dainty napkins rest next to glazed hand-pinched cups, and garden-collected flowers adorn tables under a fragrant spring tree. This is the work of a crowd of tittering 5-year-olds as they prepare to school their adult loved ones in the elusive pursuit of mindfulness.
“We work with values here,” said Marcela Caceres, founder of the Bright Start Childhood Development Center, of the six months her students have been preparing for this meditative tea celebration. “The children were very present throughout the entire project.”
Caceres explained that it’s important to remember that mindful tea parties are all about imperfection. Each gathering is unique, so it is best not to approach it as a to-do list. However, here are some kid-powered ideas for replicating this all-inclusive herbal observation:
Gather the ingredients: “The party starts with perceptions,” said Caceres of the project, which is rooted in a sensory exploration of nature. “Smells make you present.” Fragrant rose, mint, rosemary, chamomile, lavender, and lemongrass are a few of the many possible ingredients to gather from backyards.
Prepare the sachets: Lightly dry the collected herbs and then use a mortar and pestle to gently grind them. “It’s about learning together,” said Caceres of the sipping and sharing brewed herb sampling process.
Tweak your recipes: “The first time they tasted their tea, it didn’t taste [like] much,” explained Elise Wellington, a teacher at Bright Start. “So we revisited.” The children worked at their own pace to research their favorite herbal combinations.
Send the invitations: It’s your BFF and favorite family member that bring the joy to the party. Additionally, decorating cards and envelopes with pictures and the newly mastered alphabet is particularly contemplative.
Make your own tea cups: Just as the Japanese celebrate wabi-sabi’s art of work-in-progress, so can grownups enjoy clumpy little pinch pots of imperfection. Admiration of any and all ceramic creations is welcomed.
Dress up: Add some color to your workout pants or go all out with a dress or suit, shoes, and hat. But please, parents, don’t you dare pull out your phone or computer while tea is served.
Sip and smile: “We take a moment to process the thought of what you are putting through your body,” said Wellington of the children’s attempt to bring awareness to daily activities by thoughtfully tasting each drink. Mindful consumption also helps curb habit and impulse.
Enjoy a moment of silence: “It resets your brain,” said Caceres of the simple act of taking a moment of quiet to appreciate the shared moment and life around you. “It changes your day when you have gratitude.”
Recipe: Lulu’s Chai
Despite contributing her self-developed tea recipe to the charitable cookbook Cooking Up Trouble, 8-year-old Lulu Robana often falls back on the simple combination of fresh mint tea with ice and honey. “Sometimes we have tea and dessert before bed,” says Robana of one of her favorite rituals. “It’s really relaxing.”
However, when she goes big and invites her pals over, she likes to serve her sophisticated, caffeine-free chai pick-me-up. “Take your time,” she advises party imbibers. “Don’t chug the tea down.”
Luckily, this fan of competitive swimming, reading, and tea is sharing her recipe with us.
6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
Turmeric (one small chunk cut into pieces)
A half of a vanilla bean
2 tbsp rose petals
2 tbsp dried orange peel
2 tbsp dried ginger
2 stars of star anise
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp pink peppercorn
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Dash of cayenne
1 tbsp cardamom pods
5 tbsp rooibos tea
3 tbsp maple syrup
1½ cup of half-and-half