Afternoon teas being offered in Milford

MILFORD – It’s high time for tea as the Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline is hosting a Mother/Daughter/Friendship afternoon tea on May 2 and a Garden afternoon tea on June 13. Both events will take place at Gatherings located in the Colonel Shepherd House, 29 Mont Vernon St. in Milford.

Gatherings’ owner Cynthia Dokmo provides elegant space for cocktail receptions, bridal showers and other events at the Col. Shepherd House.

The Cozy Tea Cart owner Danielle Beaudette has been doing business at her 104 Rte. 13, Brookline shop for over two decades and has been offering tea services for the last 11 years.

“We were doing them at the tea shop but restructured the shop last year to make room for more inventory,” she said. “Those plans were in the works pre-COVID – and of course, not knowing that COVID would happen, we had planned on making two smaller tea rooms at the shop instead of one.”

When the pandemic began and six-foot distancing became the rule, Beaudette said that changed everything and that prevented them from doing any events at the Brookline shop.

“That’s what prompted us to partner with Gatherings,” she said. “We had our first afternoon tea there last June. The teas were very popular before COVID, but I think some people are nervous about eating indoors right now.”

Beaudette said that while things are getting better, much of the 2020 season had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus. This year, things kick off on May 2.

“We just started advertising them again,” Beaudette said. “Our June numbers are already looking good, and I think that’s because people know everyone will be fully vaccinated by then. We’re already half-full for June. 13.”

The numbers for the May 2 tea are lower and Beaudette said if there is enough interest, that tea will take place but she’s uncertain as of right now.

The teas themselves are run with a different menu each month and the menu is based on local sourcing and what is available at farm stands. Beaudette said people will be called for the May event on April 26.

“The reason we call people as week in advance is and the reason that we moved over to Gatherings is because we had to turn so many people away,” she explained. “We didn’t have the capacity to do it at the Tea Shop – and this was even before COVID.”

The idea was to fill the space at Gatherings with Beaudette’s tea services and be able to do so with more people.

“It’s a perfect setting for these,” Beaudette said. “It’s gorgeous there. And by calling ahead, we’re able to get a final count for that particular tea. We’ll know better the last week of April as to whether the May 2 event will run. But I’m confident that June is going to happen.”

Beaudette is also catering a few bridal shower events that will happen over June, July and August at Gatherings as well. And while some people have never been to an afternoon tea, Beaudette said most of her tea attendees are regulars.

“Typically, they’ll come to one tea and then they sign up for the rest of the year,” she said. “That’s why it’s so hard to get – because my regulars come every month.”

Having the teas at Gatherings will help alleviate having to turn folks away due to space issues.

Normally, teas are capped at 40 persons; Beaudette’s bridal shower are between 20 and 35 people.

The Cozy Tea Cart does all the catering in addition to having their retail store, which offers over 150 varieties of teas.

“Obviously the tea is the main part of our business,” Beaudette said. “I actually source direct. Pre-COVID, I travelled all over Asia to source the teas. And we import the tea direct from the farmers. That’s the bulk of our business.”

The Cozy Tea Cart does a huge business online with their teas, especially since COVID, according to Beaudette. The physical location in Brookline also has a café and an outdoor garden area that can seat 18 persons.

“I installed the gardens about ten years ago,” she said. “They’re pretty mature now so they look quite nice.”

Beaudette is also a certified tea specialist through the United States Tea Association, of which she is also a member. She offers lectures all over New England and New York. Since COVID, she’s been doing the lectures over Zoom which has actually been beneficial, since now she can reach people across the country.

“Personally, I like doing them over Zoom,” she said. “Zoom is really effective, and you’re not limited to just local regions.”

Tea service menus and catering menus are available at thecozyteacart.com. Additionally, Beaudette has many Zoom lectures available for viewing for $20 per lecture. For more information, call the Cozy Tea Shop at (603) 249-9111.