Girl Scout leaders know from our training to step aside and encourage the girls to lead activities that grow and empower them. So when a neighborhood troop leader asked if our Cadette troop might host her Juniors for an afternoon tea, the event became a learning opportunity for both troops. Our girls decided to develop a hands-on program to introduce the younger scouts to the history and etiquette of afternoon tea, as well as the fundamentals of the afternoon tea menu.
Well of course, this required our 6th grade girls to research, organize and rehearse their speaking roles and “tea station” activities. During our practice run, we discovered that nervousness about public speaking might lead to uncontrollable fits of laughter. Thankfully the dry run helped the girls feel more prepared and calm in their roles. We opened with the Girl Scout promise and a brief introduction to afternoon tea. Then we divided the 4th grade girls into groups of three for the station rotations.
Tea Station #1: Tea Tasting
Alex and Juliana demonstrated the basics of measuring loose leaf tea and using fresh, filtered water as they guided the younger girls in brewing three teas to sample. The fruity tisane and chocolate strawberry were the favorites.
Tea Station #2: Tea Sandwiches
Kasey and Anna ran the tea sandwich station, each choosing one recipe: watercress with herbed cream cheese on white, and cucumber-avocado with vegetable cream cheese on whole grain.
Tea Station #3: Desserts
Knowing we wouldn’t have time to bake during our event, Alana and Parker baked at home and brought an array of toppings for the girls to decorate cookies, mini brownies and blondies.
Teatime with Etiquette Lesson
The girls worked together to clear off their tables and set them with tablecloths, centerpieces, tea plates, cups, saucers, teaspoons, napkins and place cards, and la pièce de résistance: the tea curate. Admirably, the younger girls displayed patience and restraint, as our older girls prefaced the meal with afternoon tea etiquette tips about phones, posture, napkin usage, holding your teacup and adding sugar and milk.
After we bid our guests goodbye, our Cadettes gathered to debrief, discussing how they could improve the event: by having more rehearsals for speaking roles, and by pro-actively setting expectations for how to politely refuse a new food. And we’ve since heard that girls from both troops are asking for ingredients to remake the tea sandwiches at home. Though the girls learned firsthand how involved is the making of afternoon tea, it was worth the moment when they settled around the tea table to enjoy their preparations, and each other’s company. Such a sweet scene!