Our household favorite herbal teas, with lots of tips for using herbal tea with kids!
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Over the years, you’ve watched our girls grow up before your eyes, and one of the things you may have noticed when I share breakfast bar set-ups, or our infamous “Breakfast Cookie Friday” tradition, is the herbal tea on the counter, or little teacups in the girls’ hands. A warm cup of “something” to go with breakfast, or as an afternoon pick-me-up, is always comforting, and with back-to-school rhythms commencing, I thought this might be a useful resource for you!
A few considerations before we get started
I just wanted to preface that I am not a doctor, naturopath, or herbalist. I’m going to share herbal teas that I have found that my girls really enjoy, herbal teas that have been recommended by our functional medicine doctor or herbalist friends, and teas that I have found work really well for my kids. Every kid is different, and I would just keep that in mind as you read through. I keep away from caffeinated tea for the kids, and stick to gently steeping the teas. For instance, for the most part I’ll steep tea for the girls for a few minutes so it isn’t as “strong,” or if it has steeped a while, my girls will dilute it with some water if need be. As they get older, I find them diluting it less, and enjoying a stronger tea. I never used honey to sweeten the girls’ tea, but if you prefer to do that, you may!
The benefits of herbal tea for babies
Babies, toddlers, kids, and teens alike can all benefit from being introduced to herbal teas. In my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings, I show you how I introduced my babies to little sips of different herbal teas off a spoon or teacup using colic or tummy calming herbs, fever supporting herbs, as well as mineral rich nourishing herbs. It’s a great way to broaden their palate to the taste of tea, and can help gently address any tummy ailments, colds, and overall health. If you have a baby in the house, I encourage you to pick up Nourished Beginnings, and use that as your starting point, as there are tips and instructions specific to using herbals with babies that will be helpful to you.
The benefits of herbal tea for toddlers
One of my favorite things about using herbs for any age is how easy they are for the body to absorb. When used appropriately, they are gentle and easy on the body, as well as very effective. And for little ones like toddlers who don’t have a reference to sweet beverages like soda or juice (hopefully!), tea can be a super fun beverage “treat” that you can feel good about. I also found herbal teas useful when my toddlers were fighting off a bug. It was something easy to get into them when all they wanted to do was drink instead of eat. Talk about that 2 birds and 1 stone thing! Hydrating, replacing minerals lost, as well as addressing symptoms through herbs is so helpful when a toddler is ill.
The benefits of herbal tea for kids
Similar to toddlers, herbal teas can be an easy way to address symptoms in your children in an easy to administer, as well as easy to digest and absorb way. I have found sending a diluted cup of tea in the girls’ water cups for school to be helpful on so many occasions. At the beginning of the school year adding some relaxing herbs to keep their first day jitters calm. During those sniffly months to add an immune system supporting tea to keep them bolstered. During testing weeks to use focusing or calming herbs. Or while they are on a hot and sweaty field trip or long day outside to use mineral rich, replenishing herbs.
The benefits of herbal tea for teens
As the girls have grown, I have started explaining to them more about how different herbs can help them, how to pick what tea they need, and how to listen to their body. I wish I had started explaining herbs a little younger than I did, because I really think they can learn so much even as little ones, but start where you are! Giving these older kids and teens the tools they need to target how they are feeling with herbs is a priceless life skill they will take with them when they leave the home. For instance, as my oldest has entered puberty, we have talked about herbs that will support her during every week of her cycle. Helping our girls feel empowered instead of helpless with how their body changes each week is going to make such a difference in how she views this season of her life. Helping teen boys and girls learn how to use herbs to support times of stress, times of joy, times of hard work, times of illness, and times of rest is also going to serve them well as they enter their young adulthood.
To tea bag or loose leaf…that is the question!
This part is up to you, but I do have a few thoughts to help you make your choice!
- If you have little ones that “want to do myself” I do find that tea bags are less fuss, less mess, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it. I did use a little tea infuser and loose leaf for a while, and my little ones were mild mannered enough to handle it, but it does get messy, and it is more time consuming. The tea bag brands I list in this post all use UN-bleached tea bags, and have been tested for safety (ie no chemicals or junk).
- If you have a certain herb, or blend that you come to find that you use on the daily, or more often than most, it will save you money to buy in bulk loose leaf, and make it yourself. I do this with nettle and hibiscus because we love the blend of those 2 herbs, and use it often.
- Tea bags make for a tidy “tea corner” using a little organizer next to your electric tea kettle. It becomes an easy “self serve” spot for the kids to help themselves once they are independently fixing their own tea.
- If you plan to loose leaf, I have found scooping herbs from the bags they come in, into jars with lids is neater and easier to use.
Electric kettle game changer!
I started using an electric kettle when my oldest was really in a “do it herself” stage. While I didn’t mind helping her stir a pot of soup here and there, boiling a kettle of water everyday was time consuming and, on those major “toddler days,” daunting. Using an electric kettle meant she could fill up the water, flip the switch on, and then “help” me pour the water in her cup. And your teens will enjoy how fast the water boils using an electric kettle. 😉
Onto our favorite household teas!
This is by no means a complete list. There are so many great tea blends out there. The brands listed here are organic, and use safe, unbleached tea bags, and so, in general, if you find another blend in the same brand that you want to try, it should be good to go, so try it out!
Organic India Tulsi/Holy Basil Tea Blends
Tulsi (sometimes called Holy Basil) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it aides the body during stress by restoring and supporting. The Organic India brand carries just the singular Tulsi herb in a tea bag, but it also has several blends that my kids enjoy on the regular. I would say that in addition to making Nettle Hibiscus infusions in our house, these teas get used the most.
- Tulsi Sweet Rose :: This tulsi blend uses rose and chamomile to make a soothing, calming blend. If you have a little one who has a sensitive heart, this is a beautiful blend for them.
- Tulsi Sleep :: This tulsi blend uses ashwagandha and chamomile to support restful sleep. If you have high strung kids that have a hard time settling for bed, this is a great one to use at dinner time. One of my girls finds this blend helpful to have with her breakfast before school to calm her if she is experiencing anxiety about testing or changes.
- Tulsi Hibiscus :: This tulsi blend simply has hibiscus added to the adaptogenic herb. Hibiscus tastes really yummy to kids, makes for a fun reddish pink color, and is a good source of vitamin C!
- Tulsi Raspberry Peach :: This tulsi blend also includes hibiscus and elderberry with some natural flavoring for a really palatable tea for kids. It is a nice one to introduce to older kids that might turn a nose at more herbal tasting teas, and you’ll get the stress response supporting tulsi herb in there too!
Yogi Organic Elderberry & Lemon Balm Immune & Stress
Let’s face it, when our bodies are under the weather, that is a form of stress. So an herbal blend that addresses both the immune system and adrenals makes sense, right? This herbal tea not only tastes really good, it is a wonderful tea to keep around during the fall and winter months when the kids at school are passing bugs around. The girls will take this in their water bottle to school often during the winter months. This herbal blend also has a good amount of ashwagandha which I have found to be one of my favorite adaptogens for stress support.
Yogi Organic Honey Lemon Throat Comfort
The herbs in this tea are great to have around when you have that post-nasal drip feeling, scratchy throat, or cough. More than just “honey lemon,” this tea blend also has cherry bark is great for soothing coughs, and echinacea for supporting the immune system to do it’s job. Stevia leaf also makes this tea feel “sweetened” without adding any sugar.
Yogi Organic Mango Ginger Digestion Support
Ginger root is known for soothing an upset tummy – but it can also be known for being on the “spicy” side for kids. I only have one kid that enjoys straight ginger tea, but this blend is so great for kids, with dried mango right in the tea blend to tone down the ginger. This is a great tea for tummy upset, but I find the girls grabbing it even if they don’t have a sore tummy because it does taste good! Ginger is a wonderful “anytime” herb, so this is a good one to keep around. (This blend DOES still have the ginger as the main ingredient, so if you have little ones, it can be “spicy” if you steep it for too long – just a couple minutes to start is all you need, or if you happen to steep it longer and it tastes too ginger-y, just water it down a bit.)
Yogi Organic Relaxed Mind
I think of this one when I think of racing thoughts. If you have a child that is more high strung, a child who’s brain cannot “turn off”, or, as my husband likes to call it…you can literally see the wheels spinning in her brain making smoke (!), then this is a great blend for them (or you!). It also uses some berries so it has a nice flavor for kids.
Yogi Organic Relaxing Pumpkin Spice
Ok, so you’re enjoying your once or twice per fall “pumpkin spice latte,” and your kids want to have something fun too! This tea tastes so yummy, and it actually serves some purpose too! I love that! I can’t think of anyone that can’t benefit from relaxing herbs, and this blend not only tastes like a fun pumpkin spice drink, it also has chamomile and passionflower (one of my favorite calming herbs!) for relaxing. Make a big pot of it on Christmas Eve night and you can have a fun drink that also relaxes the kids!
There are plenty of “sleepy tea” blends out there, and I wanted to share a few of our favorite, safe ones to drink that my girls like the taste of. Sleepy teas aren’t just for sleep either. While they are helpful for promoting restful sleep, they are not necessarily like a “knock you out” kind of a feeling. I mentioned above that my more “high strung” kiddo finds sleepy tea helpful to drink with breakfast if she is feeling anxious for a test day at school, or something new. More of a “bring you down a few notches” versus making you drowsy!
- Organic India Tulsi Sleep :: This sleepy tea uses the adaptogenic herb tulsi blended with ashwagandha and chamomile to support restful sleep.
- Organic Yogi Bedtime :: I mentioned above how well we find passionflower to be useful for calming nerves and promoting good sleep, and this blend has passionflower and valerian, making it one of my favorite sleepy tea blends. This blend does have some stevia so it tastes sweeter, and you may find the kids like the orange flavor pretty well.
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night :: Another option, and found in a lot of grocery stores, this blend uses passionflower, chamomile, linden, and catnip to promote easier sleeping.
Kids don’t need (and shouldn’t be) heavily detoxing. (In fact, adults shouldn’t be either!) But, there are some gentle herbs that can support the liver as it gets rid of toxins in the body, and that is a great thing to do!
- Traditional Medicinals EverdayDetox Tea :: A blend of classic liver detox herbals with lemon peel to make it taste better, this is is a nice and gentle detox blend.
- Yogi Organic Berry Detox Tea :: Dandelion root is the most common of liver detoxers, but it can taste bitter – in fact some adults like to use it as a coffee substitute! I have 2 kids that actually like the taste of dandelion root teas, but I would imagine many kids will need a little help to enjoy it. This berry detox tea tastes great, and you can get the herbal benefits of some gentle liver detoxers too! They also make a Peach Detox Tea too!
A staple for the girls water bottles throughout the year, I make half gallon jars of nettle/hibiscus infusions often. Nettles are a mineral rich, overall health herb. And because nettles pull histamines down, they are great for kids with seasonal allergies too. Nettles can taste pretty “grassy” on their own, so blended with more pleasantly tasting hibiscus, it is more palatable for kids.
Healthy Cycle (for pre-teen/teen girls)
I will be the first to admit that it took me years to learn about my cycle, how it works, why it works the way it does…and how to fix things that needed fixing. I am an 80’s kid, and 90’s teen, so I won’t even go there and tell you how we managed our cycles when I was a teen. And THAT is why I’m dedicated to helping my girls NOW, while they are pre-teens and teens, instead of walking into it blind and searching for answers in their adulthood. While I’m pretty new to having a cycling teen in the house, I’d like to share how we’ve navigated it so far, and I’ll update along the way if we come across anything else useful!
- Yogi Organic Red Raspberry Leaf :: Red raspberry leaf tea is well known for supporting the uterus during menstruation. It can ease and soothe cramping pain. While we have only experienced some mild cramping so far, the difference this tea makes has been noticeable in my teen – enough that she has chosen to take it in her water bottle to school before. While the goal is to have minimal symptoms (severe PMS over the course of a few months is a red flag that something needs addressing!), it is absolutely normal for a newly cycling teen to have some ebbs and flows of cramping as her body starts cycling, and figures hormones out. Red raspberry leaf tea tastes a bit like black tea – it is on the bitter side. If you find that it works but the taste turns your teen off, try a drizzle of raw honey and squeeze of lemon or orange to brighten it up.
- Traditional Medicinal’s Healthy Cycle :: I was trying to find a red raspberry leaf tea that tasted a little better than just plain red raspberry leaf, which can be on the bitter side. I wanted to be able to share something that even teens that are new to herbal tea might enjoy. My oldest actually really enjoys the plain tea, but I will tell you right now that my middle one will not when it comes her turn. I found this blend and I really like it for a couple reasons. It has a fun citrusy, minty flavor, and it has the benefits of some gentle liver detoxers like dandelion root. Anytime there are hormones changing, the liver needs to be in tip top shape to handle the hormone dumping. If there are liver clogs or stagnation, you’re sure to have more intense symptoms. I love the extra nourishing nettle in there, as well as relaxing herbs like chamomile (which I think we would all agree we need during our period!)
Ever changing, ever growing…
As I learn and grow with the girls, I’ll try to keep this post updated! As stated above, this list if tea options is definitely not the only options. If I come across something new that we like, I’ll be sure to share!
So glad to read this. My daughter is just getting into tears and I would like to encourage her with healthy options. Thank you for taking the time to write this!
You’re welcome Amber!
Thank you for this great info!
We are 3 out of 6 that have girls cycling here!
This is helpful!
Are there food choices and other things you recommend doing to help prepare a preteen girl for the start of menstruation?
Hi Lisa! I think the biggest key is to not leave out any macros – protein, fats, carbs – they need them all. Healthy versions of all of them – real food versions. Protein can be meat, eggs, fish, nuts in moderation, fats like avocados, olive oil, butter, meat, eggs. And good slow burning carbs like fruit, root veggies/potatoes, whole grain rice, oats.