Tea is virtually inseparable from British culture, from the noontime cuppa to the pre-bed nightcap. Let your kids get a picture of the imperial importance of England’s tea trade with a visit to the last remaining clipper ship of its kind, the Cutty Sark. The blue glass enclosure surrounding the ship’s hull resembles choppy ocean waves as a complex web of ropes and pulleys rises upwards alongside the masts. Enter through a cutout doorway in the lower hold and point out to your kids the gigantic beams that gave the craft the tremendous strength it needed for its perilous voyages between Shanghai and London in the 1870s.
As you wander the cargo holds–letting your kids explore whatever detail strikes them–you’ll enjoy a video tutorial about the tea-making and shipping process. Then head up to the ‘tween deck, where a timeline of the ship’s history runs through a scattered collection of crates and steamer trunks, passing by the open doors of spartan sailors’ quarters. Go up one more level and you’ll find yourself on the sun-drenched deck, where everyone’s thoughts will be of ocean adventures. (At this point you may need to remind your kids that climbing the rigging is not permitted, no matter how much fun it seems.) When you’ve finished playing sea captain with the kids, head back downstairs to see the shining gold keel of Cutty Sark before visiting the Even Keel cafe for–what else?–a cup of tea and a slice of “Cutty tea loaf,” a fruit cake infused with aromatic tea.