Cozy Tea Party & Chill on Edgewood Ave.

Mindi Rose Englart | January 28th, 2024

Cozy Tea Party & Chill on Edgewood Ave.

Arts, Culture & Community  |  Possible Futures  |  Little Lion Collective

4Mama K

1cara and ...

Top photo: Kismet Douglass and and Kai Sricharaoenta of Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine created the finger sandwiches and strawberry shortcake cups. Bottom photo: Little Lion Collective Founder Cara Santino poured up the libations at the group's recent Wine + Tea Party. Mindi Englart Photos.

The soulful sounds of Sade and Whitney Houston enveloped people as they entered Possible Futures on a chilly evening. 


Book mavens Nyzae Jones, Lauren Anderson and IfeMichelle Gardin get some reading done during the party.

With the lights turned down low and warm candlelight strategically placed throughout, the book space had been transformed into a cozy living room where people mingled while enjoying a cup of tea or a glass of wine. As people further settled into the space, noshing on delicately made finger sandwiches and strawberry shortcake in a cup, the Little Lion Collective’s Wine & Tea party got underway.

The ultra-relaxed event is the brainchild of Cara Santino, who created the Little Lion Collective, a group that hosts events featuring carefully-curated drinks, food and music in welcoming spaces around New Haven. (Read more about Santino here and Little Lion Collective's next event here.)

7Angel Dahfay

Dahfay spinning the party's tunes.

Angel Dahfay served as the evenings D.J., using her musical selections to help set the event’s chill vibes.

The founder of Sweets & Sounds Entertainment, Dahfay said she met Sarantino last summer. The tea party is her second time working with the Little Lion Collective.

“She hit me up on Instagram,” Dahfay recalled. “I just DJ for fun. Tonight, I’m playing all women artists from the 80s, 90s, 2000s. The vibe is modern, soulful–like Sade, Brandi, Whitney Houston.” 


Jisu Sheen.

Many of the tea party’s attendees, like Jisu Sheen, were drawn to the event because they’re also involved in creating community. Sheen is a narrative artist, who uses painting, video, and alternative structures to tell stories.

3Hope Chavez

Hope Chavez peruses the stacks and enjoys some wine.

Hope Chavez, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, was among those who braved the cold to attend. 

“I was struck by the warmth when I walked in the door, coming from all this snow and ice!” she said “This space feels very safe.”

Creating warm, welcoming, safe spaces is part of the mission of the Little Lion Collective. The people who help Santino create these spaces are people they call friends. 

Mama KissA fairly new Santino friend, Kismet Douglass, of Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine, provided the evening’s food options, while yet another friend, Dean Andrade, founder and leader of the Album Club at Neverending Books, contributed albums for the collective to sell. 

9Jude Fremd, Alexandra McKnight, Dean Andrade.JPG

Left to right: Jude Fremd, Alexandra McKnight, Dean Andrade.

Friends like Toral Khunti were busy combining tea with milk and carefully chosen spices that she poured into a delicate vintage tea cup.

“We named this ‘Stopover Bombay’ after an Alice Coltrane song,” Khunti said of the drink. “It’s a black tea blend, with a mix of cardamom, ginger, clove, mace, cinnamon, rose petals, black pepper, and whole milk and sugar.”

5Toral Khunti (1)

Santino's right-hand woman and collective member, Toral Khunti.

Khunti, who is a member of the collective, said she connected with Santino about two years ago over a shared love of all things culinary.

“I’m like Cara’s right hand woman,” Khunti said. “When she told me about her concept, I loved it.”


Left to right: Lys Gant, Sandy Flores, Melba Perez, and Melba Flores.

Khunti said, as a child-free woman in her 30s, she’s interested in building community. Getting to know people, especially post-pandemic, is important to her.

“Especially with what’s going on in the world, it’s important that we come together and take care of each other.”

Santino said she was really pleased with how the evening came together.

“I’ve been wanting to go to an event like this for a long time," she said. "They’re hard to find, so we had to create one. We had great guests and collaborators, in the city where so many of us are from. We really couldn’t ask for more.”