Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Tea Cozy Cottage

Those of you who know me and know my sister, know exactly how different we are from one another.  Michelle is patient, outgoing, eternally optimistic and almost always late...she is pretty much my exact opposite (except that we both love horror movies, ice cream and the Smiths).  She's got a gift with people, one I will never possess.  You could put her in a room with strangers and she'll just go up to anyone of them and start chatting away.  It's effortless for her, it's natural, instinctive.  Put me in a room with strangers and I'll slowly back myself into a corner and huddle in the fetal position.  So, when eight or so years ago Michelle mentioned that she wanted to open up a tea house, everyone nodded their heads and said "Ahhh, yes!  That would be perfect for you!"  And it was.  Over the past seven years Michelle has been running The Tea Cozy Cottage in Mariemont with her co-owner, behind-the-scenes guy, soup-making extraordinaire husband, Christian.

 Now, I know I'm a little biased, but as far as tea houses go...the Tea Cozy Cottage is the shit.  It's never been one of those stuffy tea houses with doilies and flower wallpaper.  The Tea Cozy Cottage is different.  It's the kind of place where any man, woman, or child can walk in and feel comfortable.  It's the kind of classy, yet cozy place that focuses on the experience of high tea rather than all those pointless girly frills.  Whether you're a tea house veteran or you've never had tea in your life, you're bound to enjoy it; not just because the Tea Cozy Cottage offers over 70 different teas, a menu that changes weekly and conforms to the diners' dietary restrictions (read: lactose-free, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc), but because Michelle is there, smiling ear to ear, ready to make sure you have the best possible experience.  It's rare to find an establishment where the proprietor/chef/hostess is so committed to the customers' happiness, but Michelle has always done everything in her power to make sure her customers leave with a smile on their faces.

 (photo courtesy of Veggie Option)

On a personal level, the tea house has meant so much to me.  During college, the tea house was my second job, the place I spent a majority of my weekends (in the kitchen, of course...away from all the people).  But more than that, it was a place for Michelle and I to spend time together.  Whether I was helping watching her cook or doing dishes together after a big tea, it was an amazing bonding experience for two sisters who didn't grow up in the same household (we're half-sisters and nearly 12 years apart in age).  I remember listening to the Smiths or ABBA, dancing around an the empty dining room, singing along; Michelle setting the tables while I devoured one of the extra scones swept the floor.  It is a place that will forever remain in my mind; a bright-shining example of Michelle's infectious personality.

Despite the fact that the tea house has remained a part-time gig for Michelle and Christian (each of which have full-time jobs during the week), offering four tea-times a weekend (11am and 2pm / Saturday and Sunday), for two weekends a month (by appointment only).  The tea house has managed to stay afloat during rather difficult economic times and continued to offer a place for bridal/baby showers, unique birthday celebrations, and special themed teas like the American Girl tea.  But sadly, this has been The Tea Cozy Cottage's last year.  New ownership of the property has only made things more difficult for this delightful small business, and after seven years of dedication the Tea Cozy Cottage will be closing its doors this December.  

There are several of reasons for the closure, time, money and outside factors (read: d-bag landlord). But I won't focus on that, instead I'll focus on the good times.  On the time my parents and grandparents came down and enjoyed a lovely fall tea together (and my dad wore a little boys cowboy hat from the hat wall throughout the entire meal).  The time Antoine dressed up as a woman for the legendary Halloween tea and won the prize for best costume.  The time I had to fill in for Michelle and act as hostess while Christian manned the kitchen; I was scared shitless, but the ladies in the dining room were so nice to me and kept telling me I was doing a great job even though my hands were shaking and I almost spilled tea on a couple of them.  And the first time I took Antoine to tea, his first high tea ever, after we had just started dating.  And the countless other memories that are buried down deep in my heart, that I'll pull out years from now and reminisce with my sister over a cup of tea. 

To Michelle and Christian, I know this is a very sad and difficult time for you and that the next couple months will be very rough and emotional.  But know that all your hard work was not done in vain.  Over the last seven years you've touched so many people's hearts and put good food in their bellies.  You've introduced them to teas and cuisines that they would have never experienced otherwise.  You've shared your stories of traveling the world, picking up new teas and fresh ideas.  And you've shared with them a gift, a special experience that will always stay with them.  And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to be one of those people and to share this experience with you!  The Tea Cozy Cottage will be missed.  But I am certain that this is not that last time we will see your shining face, dear sister, and your delicious food, Christian.  (Not to say your face isn't shining Christian, and your food isn't delicious know what I mean!)  Let us remember the past, the good times, and know that you carry that memory with you into a bright and exciting future for both of you!

All my love,

So dear readers, before December 12th is here make sure to visit this wonderful little treasure and make memories of your own. 


Christian said...

That's really nice. Thanks, J.

Michelle Boyles said...

I love you sister!!!!

You are so full of kindness & love.
I am lucky; all my passion comes out in a gutteral flow for all to share.
But you, you are special.
One must wait patiently, as for a beautiful sunset or sunrise; knowing all along it is there, yet almost unexpected (in its beauty).
Because of this your words are always so thoughtful, so heartfelt and appreciated. I don't know how I got so lucky to have a wonderful sister like you, but I will never stop thanking God that I have you in my life and that we were and are able to share such special times together. Thank you for being part of the Tea Cozy Cottage!!
"Why is the last mile the hardest mile ?
My throat was dry, with the sun in my eyes
And I realized, I realized
I could never
I could never, never, never, go back home again."

Your sister.

Michelle Boyles said...
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