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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Discover what this means

Time for tea

First suggested by 38th and 40th Strood Sea Scouts
Spend some quali-tea time together with this GongFu guide to cha, chat, and chill.

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You’ll need

  • Access to water
  • Tables
  • Kettle
  • Tea
  • Teapot or gaiwan
  • Teacups
  • Jug
  • Tea strainer
GongFu tea guide
PDF – 11.1MB

Scouts is open to everyone. We don’t identify exclusively with one faith, and we welcome people of all faiths and of none.

We know it’s important for people to learn about each other, including understanding different faiths and beliefs. Scouts always respects people’s beliefs, faiths and cultures, and everyone should be open to learn.

As an inclusive and values based movement, we support our members to engage and learn about different faiths and beliefs in an exciting and meaningful way, even if they don’t have a faith themselves.  

Celebrating and understanding differences, including differences in faiths and beliefs, is an important part of our Scout values, which are:

  • Integrity: We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal.
  • Respect: We have self-respect and respect for others.
  • Care: We support others and take care of the world in which we live.
  • Belief: We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Co-operation: We make a positive difference; we co-operate with others and make friends.

Our value of Belief and its exploration helps Scouts to learn from other faiths and beliefs. This encourages them to develop or build their personal beliefs and understand their shared values, whether faith-based on not. 

We know that learning about faiths, beliefs and different attitudes can help to break down barriers, helps us all to recognise what we have in common, and teaches us to value and respect other people. It also helps us to build up respect, acceptance and knowledge for each other, leading to a more co-operative and inclusive society. 

In our diverse society, people can sometimes feel cautious talking about  this sensitive subject. However, it's important that Scouts offers young people safe, exciting and open spaces to explore faiths and beliefs. They should be able to engage in personal reflection, as they question and develop their opinions and understanding of the world around them.

Making time for personal reflection and developing our beliefs means exploring the places, people, communities, celebrations or stories which hold meaning for us, and it may not necessarily mean exploring a faith. 

For example, someone’s shared values may be their Scout Values and that person may choose to reflect on them at important times, such as when they make their Promise. Others may choose to reflect at certain times of the year, such as a faith-based festival, birthdays, meaningful events or at New Year. Some people may still celebrate events, such as Christmas, but use it as a time to celebrate family, friends and loved ones, as well as for charity and giving.

Discover more about Faiths and Beliefs in Scouts.

The GongFu Cha (or KungFu Tea) ceremony comes from Tibet, Nepal, and China. It dates back over 3,000 years, which makes it the oldest form of tea ceremony in the world, and remains largely unchanged.

The aim of the GongFu Cha is to create a quiet, reflective space which is religiously neutral but spiritually engaging.

There aren’t strict rules: you could discuss the flavour and type of tea or ask and reflect on life’s big questions.

The World Buddhist Scout Council offers support and guidance on Buddhism through international Scouts events. You can email them at

To watch in full screen, double click the video

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Take a look at our guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples.  
  • Make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 

Planning and setting up this activity

  • If you want to use the session to chat about a particular topic, it may help to let everyone know in advance.
  • You don’t need any special equipment to run this activity. Use the ‘A basic tea kit’ list on this page to get started from things you hopefully already have. If you want more detailed information, use the attached ‘Gongfu tea guide’.
  • You should give a safety briefing about hot water and hot equipment before running this activity.

Start the ceremony

  1. Gather everyone together in a circle.
  2. Explain what a tea ceremony is, introduce all of the equipment, and tell everyone the discussion topics (if there are any). This is a good time to pass around the tea hand (or packet of tea) so everyone can see and smell the tea.
  3. Arrange everything on a heatproof surface.
  4. An adult should heat some water, then carefully and slowly pour some hot water over all of the items to wake the set. You may wish to do this over a sink or with the items on a heatproof container, such as a deep-sided baking tray, so the water is caught to prevent slipping.
  5. Put the tea into the teapot, pour hot water over it, then almost immediately drain the water off again. This cleans the tea from dust and anything else that may contaminate it.
  6. Pour the hot water from the kettle into the teapot for the first infusion. Leave it for the right amount of time.
  7. Check your packet to see how long to brew the tea for (and the ideal water temperature). As a general guide:
    • brew black tea at 85 degrees for 60 seconds
    • green tea at 70 degrees for 30 seconds
    • oolong tea at 75 degrees for 60 seconds
    • white tea at 72 degrees for 30 seconds.
  1. When the tea’s ready, an adult should pour it from the teapot into the sharing jug. Use the tea strainer if you need to and leave the lid off the teapot between infusions.
  2. Pour the tea evenly and calmly into the cups, filling them about a third full so the top’s not too hot to hold.
  3. Pass the cups to the group with your right hand in a clockwise direction.
  4. Once everyone’s tried the tea, they should pass the cups back to the person leading the ceremony.

Encourage everyone to get stuck into discussion as they try the tea and between each infusion.

  1. Pour more hot water over the tea leaves in the teapot and repeat steps five to nine for the second infusion. This time, leave black tea for 65 seconds, green tea for 40 seconds, oolong tea for 65 seconds, and white tea for 50 seconds.

Explain that you’re using the same leaves so people can experience how the tea tastes slightly different with each infusion.

  1. Repeat again for a third infusion. This time, leave black tea for 80 seconds, green tea for 60 seconds, oolong tea for 75 seconds, and white tea for 60 seconds.
  2. Collect all of the cups and move them off of the table. Tip any leftover tea and the wet tea leaves over the tea pets (if you have them), and thank everyone for taking part.


  • It’s up to you what kind of tea you use: green, white, oolong, or black all work well.
  • We’d recommend good quality loose leaf tea if you can get hold of some – teabags aren’t great for the environment, and loose leaf tea will taste better too.

Tea tray or table

  • You’ll use this to frame your space and create a little stage for the tea performance.
  • Choose something that can handle a bit of spilled tea.
  • You could use a bamboo mat or a piece of fabric. Some people have fancier trays that drain spilled tea away.

Tea hand

  • This is used to present the dry tea leaves before the ceremony.
  • If you don’t have one, you could just pass the packet around instead.


  • You can use an electric kettle or a large boiling pan.
  • It’s best to use fresh water that hasn’t been boiled before. Ideally, you’ll get the water to 80 degrees, but don’t worry too much if you can’t be exact.

Sharing jug

  • A glass or clay jug that’s roughly the same capacity as your teapot. You’ll use it to pour the tea into the cups.
  • You could use a jug you already have, as long as it’s heatproof.

Tea strainer

  • To fit over the sharing jug to catch the tea leaves – no one wants leaves in their tea.

Teapot (or gaiwan)

  • You’ll use this to infuse your tea with boiling water.
  • We find that around 200 to 300ml is a good size.


  • You’ll need one for each person.
  • Small cups (around 30 to 50ml) work best.

Tea pet (zisha)

  • Tea pets aren’t essential, so you can go ahead with your ceremony without them if you need to.
  • These are small, ornate creatures. Around 900BC, potters started to use the clay left over from making teapots to make small charms.
  • Over time, tea pets change colour (and scent) because of the different teas they’ve shared with people. This is called training a tea pet.
  • Tea pets inspired things like Pokémon.

Young people who want to work towards their Scouts My Faith Activity Badge will need to talk about the origins, history, and teachings of a faith. They could think about at least one point in each section.

It’s up to them whether they want to share their reflections in a tea ceremony or speak to a volunteer about them afterwards.


  • Where in the world did the faith originate?
  • Who founded the faith? Was it a single person?
  • Do you/when did you start to identify with the faith?


  • Are there any significant places for the faith? You could think about buildings, monuments, shrines, or other holy places. Where are they? Why are they important?
  • In your local area, where could you go to learn more about your faith, or to worship with others who share the faith?
  • Where could you go in the UK (or around the world) to learn more about the faith, or to worship with others who share the faith?
  • Are there any writings or drawings from the early days of the faith?
  • How were the teachings of the faith recorded and passed down?


  • What values guide the choices you make and the way you live?
  • Are there any sayings or stories from the faith that are particularly important to you? Why?
  • How do you learn about the teachings of the faith? For example, they could be written down, shared by religious leaders, or discussed with family and friends.
  • Is there a person you admire (or a role model) who shares the same faith as you? How do they live by the teachings of your faith?


This activity gave people the chance to have confidence in their own faith and beliefs. How did people find sharing with each other? Sharing personal things with other people can be scary, but hopefully everyone was supportive and it helped them to understand each other better. How else can people help others feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts?

This activity was also about communicating. Communicating isn’t just about talking (or other ways of telling other people things) – it’s about listening too. Do people think it’s easy to be a good listener, or does it take practise? Checking in with friends, asking how they’re feeling, and really listening to what they have to say can be a great way to strengthen friendships. Could people try to do this, as well as all of their usual ways of spending time together?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

It’s up to you how you approach the discussion element of this activity. You could let it flow naturally or introduce specific topics. You could even ask people to do some research before the ceremony so they can share some of the things they’ve learned.

  • If anyone in your group can’t drink the tea, see if there’s something else they can drink instead so they can still take part.
  • Keep any discussion as open and inclusive as possible.
  • Not everyone’s comfortable talking in big groups. You could split into smaller groups or pairs to chat, or people could share in other ways, for example, sharing pictures or telling a friend what they’d like to say.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Anyone who enjoyed learning more about different faiths and beliefs could have a go at the Scouts World Faiths Activity Badge.