Carol Navarre's fascination with psychic phenomena began at an early age.
"In the eighth grade, when I was 13, I gave a book report on 'Autobiography of a Yogi'," she recalled. "It did really change my perception of things, especially having gone to Catholic schools. Then, in the 12th grade, I did a paper on historical witchcraft. People looked at me funny, but then I always kind of enjoyed being looked at funny."
In 1982, Navarre watched happily as her cousin went into the psychic reading business.
"Her mother-in-law was named Rita, and she was from Boston and could read tea leaves," said Navarre. "So you can see where the name came from."
At that time, it was illegal in Michigan to charge for a psychic reading, so the first proprietors of the Boston Tea Room served food. They charged for bagels and quiches and fruit plates, and then gave their customers readings for free. Ten years ago, when Navarre's cousin decided she was tired of the business, Navarre decided to buy it with her daughter Heatherleigh.
"Now, we do the opposite," she said. "We charge for the reading and give a free treat, tea with cookies or a trail mix bar. I like the idea that no one else did that. We have a large selection of tea and very good quality coffee. I wanted the quality of the things we offer to match the quality of the readings."
Finding quality readers is of the utmost importance to Navarre. She screens potential candidates carefully, and as part of the process, applicants have to give five-seven 10-minute readings to both co-owners, as well as the store's senior readers.
"They have to be good," Navarre explained. "I have to believe they have talent to hire them. And in three months after working here, they're going to be better. In six months, better still, and in a year they'll be great. It's not just being a good reader, they have to be open to being mentored by the other readers here and increasing their psychic education."
Navarre has seen enough bad readers come through her door to know the difference, and she's quick to point out the warning signs to newcomers.
"There are people who have scripted readings, who wait to see what you're going to react to [and go with that]," she said. "People who tell you there's nothing you can do about a situation, but they can help you, that's a big signal. If they make you promises that they can fix your life, they cannot. Only you can fix your life.
"They should tell you something you can identify with in the first five minutes," Navarre continued. "Say what you're interested in knowing about. If you're not getting what you need, ask to see another reader. They won't be upset. No reader is so good they're going to connect with everybody. The only entity that is that good is God, and I couldn't get him to work for me. I tried."
The phonies out there are many, but when a reader has the gift of sight, Navarre said the results are darn near amazing.
"One reader, after a client left, said to me, 'her husband's been waiting 30 years for her to get a reading,'" said Navarre. "I asked her, 'how do you know?' She said, 'because when she sat down, I could hear his voice as clearly as I hear you.'"
Navarre wanted to know more.
"I asked her, 'what did he say?' And the reader replied, 'he said, tell her the toilet is leaking and it's ruining the sub-floor, and if I was alive, I wouldn't let that go on for two days.'"
Not surprisingly, when the client returned home she found that the toilet had, in fact, been leaking and done damage to the sub-floor.
Today, the tea room is expanding. In addition to readings, the store has for the past several years offered a wide variety of teas as well as jewelry, candles, music, natural gemstones, cards and much more. Now, the tea room is opening the Blue Lotus Center in a different unit of the building they're presently in. The center offers massage and bodywork, energy work, Reiki, Shamanic healing, meditation and more.
"I don't think we should have to go to Ann Arbor or Royal Oak for these services," said Navarre. "I think there's a market for it, and if you build it, they will come."