Make Tea Time Part of Your After School Routine

I know, I’m talking about tea time again. I’m like an old lady.

I can’t help it. It’s the best.

We have tea after school about four days a week. I know that it might seem archaic or old fashioned but it’s part of our routine. My kids only recently realized that not everyone in their classes has a dedicated afternoon tea time and it blew their minds. It was like finding out that they were the only kids in their class who eat breakfast before school.

I wanted to post because I’ve talked about doing a simple tea before but then I’ve shared photos of elaborate tea settings with themes and multiple dishes and cloth tablecloths because hi, blogger life.

I love doing themed teas like that, but realistically we only go all out about once a month and it’s usually on a weekend (esp. Sunday morning) when we’re creating a whole family moment. I’m sure someone out there could do that every day for their kids but that’s not how we roll around here.

Our after school tea usually looks like this:

This is the table in the basement where the kids do their homework and whatever learning-ish activity we’re doing after school. When they come home, they put their stuff away and wash their hands and then they come down and either read or draw at the table while I make tea.

We have a shelf where our trays, teapots, tea cups, and tea-ish things live so I load up the tray with our dishes. Some days we do a tea service with saucers, cream (whole milk), sugar cubes and all that but other days I prepare their tea with milk and sugar upstairs and bring it down in mugs without the extras. I boil water, put together a snack, make the tea, and take it downstairs. We have tea while I read to the kids for 15-20 minutes or we use the time to talk about something (especially if we’re having issues with the house rules) and then I clear the dishes and the kids start their homework.

It’s not a lot of effort and that break makes a HUGE difference in how well they focus, how quickly they finish their work, and how nice everyone is to each other in that exhausted post-school space before dinner. Also, it doesn’t ruin their appetite as much as you’d think because the snack is never huge. I have cookies in the photo above and, yes, that happens fairly often because cookies+tea but we also do cheese, fruit, crackers, etc.

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Obviously there’s a bit of an investment if you don’t have tea-ish stuff but you really only need a tray, at least one teapot, and some cups. I love (LOVE) delicate teacups with saucers and we do use those but I’ve also learned to be realistic about kids who have a hard time being gentle with dishes so we’ve come up with some options over the years:

/// Mugs, like the ones shown above, are harder to break than teacups and they are particularly inexpensive around the holidays so you can stock up on the small ones that are perfect for kids.

/// Green Toys has a food-safe tea set made from recycled milk jugs that is BPA-free and dishwasher safe. The cups don’t hold much, which is great for keeping tea from being too hot.

/// Kid-sized metal cups like the ones you use for camping are also shatter-proof and dishwasher safe. We have a few of these but I don’t pull them out very often because the temperature thing is tricky when you put a hot beverage in metal but it’s an option.

Truth is, the two older kids moved to teacups and saucers by three years old and the youngest is getting there quickly. Yes, there have been tea casualties but most of our tea cups come from Homegoods and are between $3-5 per cup so it’s not like they’re shattering my great-grandma’s tea set. At the same time, I do think it’s important to pick pieces that make you happy when you use them and make your kids feel like you’re trusting them with “the good stuff”. This year we’ve mostly been using this heart-shaped set that I’m a little obsessed with and it’s survived so far.

We have three teapots in this house including our Chinese tea service, but we really only use the large white pot or the small white pot, depending on how much tea we need. You could easily get away with only one tea pot. We have one sugar pot with sugar tongs and one creamer. We also have some tea spoons which are gentler on the cups. I purchased all of those at Homegoods.

As for the tray, we have a few. I loved that wood and wire one that I got from Target last year (the round one pictured above) but it warped as soon as it got wet because it truly was decorative so that was a bummer. I also love our gold one, which we still use, but it’s a fancy bumpy decorative one as well so I have to be more careful with it and it doesn’t hold as much. Our go-to right now is our basic flat white one that wipes clean. I think it was about $10 at Target and even though it isn’t as pretty, it’s the one to go with if you’re only going to have one.

Little note – I try to stick pretty close to white and gold for a color scheme. Every now and then I’m tempted by some other color (like those heart cups!!) but keeping things mostly white and gold means everything matches even though I bought them all as individual pieces.

Beyond the dishes, there’s also the cost of the tea but that really doesn’t add up to much unless you’re going crazy. Our largest tea pot makes about five adult-sized cups of tea (plenty for the four of us) and only takes two tea bags per pot (which is a dollar or less). I mostly do teas without caffeine and the favorites are the apple tea and “pink tea” from Republic of Tea.

We get most of our snacks, including the butter cookies, ladyfingers, and cheese sticks, from Trader Joe’s because the prices are so reasonable and they have some nice things that aren’t cross-contaminated with nuts which makes them safe for Eva. If allergies weren’t a concern, we could cut costs even more I’m sure by going for major brands of cookies and crackers.

Randomly, I had a hard time finding sugar cubes at our local grocery stores so I get them on Amazon. We have to do cubes on the days they get sugar because the kids cannot be trusted to dole out a reasonable amount when it’s loose. The kids only get to have one a day and only in the pink tea or black teas so the box lasts forever. I also use brown sugar lumps sometimes, especially for teas that taste like vanilla or cinnamon, and we use honey when we’re battling colds.

Tea before homework. Do it. It’s so good.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Haily

    I grew up with tea time after school as well. I would go to my grandmas every day after school and at 4 o clock was tea time. She had a cup of tea and either toast or a rice cake with peanut butter and honey EVERY DAY. Usually she made me a bigger snack since I didn’t tend to eat much at school (if at all) but it’s a fond memory that I’m sure you kids will have too.

    November 19, 2018 at 11:32 am
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