The Chinese have an ancient saying “开门七件事：柴米油盐酱醋茶”. It says that the seven necessities of Chinese culture are firewood (柴 chái), rice (米 mĭ), oil (油 yóu), salt (盐 yán), sauce (酱 jiàng), vinegar (醋 cù) and tea (茶 chá). This is commonly used to illustrate how tea drinking, appreciation and culture is an intrinsic part of the Chinese speaking world. Tea appreciation is an art form, a calm and comforting ritual for many.
We believe that cultural understanding and context are essential for learning a language well. Our students often enjoy tea at House on the Hill and are taught how to make and consume it within our Montessori Practical Life Curriculum. In the afternoons, children in our Mandarin full-immersion program, 天天向上 (tiān tiān xiàng shāng), will brew a pot of tea and enjoy sipping it in class.
With the gentle and melodious sounds of traditional Chinese music in the background, this ritual helps the children to slow down and find stillness and peace.
In this Montessori at Home activity, we will show you how to create your own ritual with your child. This meditative act involves being mindful and present during all aspects of the tea ritual, including making the tea, drinking the tea, and being aware of the effects on your mind and body.
The child featured in this activity is 5 year old Hans, son of House on the Hill CEO and founder Ms. Jing. As you will see here, Hans likes to relax in the evenings with a cup of tea and a book.
On hot water and temperature
As a proud Montessori school, independence as a skill is highly encouraged in our children. Our N-K students are taught progressively how to brew their own tea. Teachers will fill a flask with hot water and the children will pour the water from the flask (with close supervision). Younger children who are unable to distinguish high temperatures will be provided with double insulated cups. As they mature, they advance to the next level with ceramic cups, where the thinner surface helps them to start to differentiate hot and cold.
On herbal teas
We use quality herbs and dried flowers to make our teas. These are healthy, easy to digest, with nutritional properties that help to soothe, relax and heal.
Some traditional chinese herbs that are great for children include:
· Mint: our students love to pluck the leaves from their mint plants and brew some mint tea. It helps with digestion, improves energy and reduces fatigue.
· Chrysanthemum: helps reduce inflammation, a good source of vitamins A and C, and for adults, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
· Wolfberry: also known as goji berry, these tiny fruits are packed with antioxidants and aids with good vision
· Chinese Red Dates: also known as jujube, dates have anti-inflammatory properties. They help improve digestion, are calming and relaxing, and are a rich source of iron. They’re also great for skin complexion, mummies and daddies!
· Longans: these are believed to improve digestion and soothe the stomach. They have a soothing aroma and are rich in vitamin C, helping to boost immunity.
· Chen pi: sun-dried mandarin orange peel gives a citrus kick and a slight sweetness to infusions, as well helping digestion and soothing the throat
· Rose petals: not only does it give the infusion a lovely smell, rose has a relaxing effect, helping to lower stress levels and encourage sleep
These herbs can be brewed with hot water to make a soothing drink, either individually or together in various combinations. Please do not give your child caffeinated teas and consult a doctor if necessary before proceeding.
What you will need to set up your prepared environment:
Teapot and cups
Herbs and dried flower ingredients – one tablespoon of mixture per person
Traditional Chinese music – We recommend searching for “guzheng instrumental” on YouTube
How to create your own tea ceremony at home:
Fill the teapot with herbs
Pour warm water in and steep for a few minutes
Remove the herbs, leaving the tea in the pot
Pour tea into cups
Have a good sniff and inhale the goodness of the tea
Take a sip. Isn’t it lovely?
Enjoy with a good book!