Prep for Dining Out

Favorite Tea Today: Mighty Leaf — Green Tea Tropical

When I first tried this years ago, I finally understood why people all over the world raved about green tea. I also questioned why tropical fruit hadn't been added to all green teas. Please remember that most green teas should only be steeped to a maximum of three minutes in 180-degree water (not boiling), or they have a tendency to taste bitter. Mighty Leaf teas are available at

Experiment to Try — Prep for Dining Out:
Around the age of three is a good time to start acclimating your child to dining out with grown ups. Start small. Ask a good friend if he or she would be willing to have coffee out as part of the initial experiment, which might be called off if needed, depending on your child's behavior.

Explain to your child ahead of time that you'll be going out to meet with your friend for grown up time, and that your child has been invited. Set expectations around behavior, such as sitting up straight, taking turns talking, using napkins, using indoor voices only, saying please and thank you, and being very polite and patient. Explain that this is a very special outing, and that it's important that all of you have a good time. Explain that if he or she isn't ready for a grown up special event, then you both will have to leave immediately.

It's also important for you to remember that your child should have an equal share in the conversation, and your friend should be prepped ahead of time to be willing to thoroughly engage in grown up conversation with the child. This isn't the time for you both to have coffee with a child "on the side." This is a lesson in shared, three-way grown up behavior and conversation.

If all goes well, you three will have a great time. If not, and mild corrections do not work, then please excuse yourselves and part with your friend. Afterward (and not in front of the friend), explain to your child that what he or she did was not grown up behavior, and that in the future, you know he or she will make a better effort to act appropriately. Encourage your child by saying you hope you can do it again in the future, and reinforce all the conduct rules again ahead of time.

It will take some practice!

  Introducing Grown Ups

Favorite Tea Today: Tazo — Earl Grey

This is currently my favorite Earl Grey and a morning caffeine go-to. It's hard to make a bad cup of tea with this bergamot oil and black tea blend, although I prefer to steep it only three minutes instead of the recommended five to ensure it's not too overpowering. Brew this with boiling water and enjoy. Tazo teas are available at

Experiment to Try — Introducing Grown Ups:
Outside of family, it's best to err on the side of least offensive when introducing other grown ups. Grown ups are not kids, and therefore should be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss, accordingly. Tell your child that it is not acceptable to call a grown up by a first name unless that person has given direct permission to do so.

A children's party hosted by a friend or neighbor is a great opportunity to reinforce introductions.

Ahead of time, set up expectations for your arrival at the door and how to greet the host or hostess. Practice with proper names, direct eye contact, and an opening statement that's genuine. As grown ups, we take simple greetings for granted, but practicing ahead of time with your child will give him or her more confidence in how to act appropriately around grown ups.

"Hello, Mrs. Jones. Thank you for inviting me," is a great start. And a great ending includes reinforcing how to leave the party: with a genuine, direct eye contact "thank you" as well.

It's simple, but a great building block.

Miss Bittner, owner, teacher, personal chef

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Tea & Teaching Blog


We'd like to share tips and ideas for introducing and reinforcing essential manners in every day situations.


And because we can't resist, we've listed some of our favorite teas we've been sipping as we savor a calming cuppa and plan our lessons. Please try out our Tetiquette tips and let us know what you think.


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  Opening Doors

Favorite Tea Today: Twinings — Lady Grey

Perfect for a medium strength cup of tea, Lady Grey is a lighter twist on classic Earl Grey. Light citrus notes are blended with black tea, creating a more subtle and gentle flavor. How can a tea flavor be gentle? Try this one and you'll know. Boiling water is recommended. For me, this tea is almost foolproof. I can let it steep indefinitely, and it never tastes bitter or too strong. Twinings teas are available at

Experiment to Try — Opening Doors:
Young and older children (especially teenagers) will benefit from the where's and why's of opening doors for friends, family and strangers.

For young children, ask them if they can start opening doors when safe to do so. They should enjoy running ahead to lend a helping hand and demonstrate increased responsibility. However, make sure they are up to the task and let grown ups take control if doors are too heavy, if foot traffic is too heavy or if there are other obstacles.

For older children, let them know that there are rarely situations when opening a door won't be appreciated. Young ladies and young gentlemen should offer to open doors particularly for the elderly or physically challenged. That includes people loaded down with groceries, strollers and the like. Also, if there's a steady stream of people (more than a handful), it's perfectly acceptable at any age to hold the door initially and then join the stream going in. Holding the door for a dozen people is not necessary.

If thank you's are spoken for these kind services, the best response is "you're welcome."

Opening doors is a small act of empathy that — you never know — can make a big difference in someone's day.

Bite-Sized Lessons Paired with a Cup of Relaxation

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