A historic tea house is now open in Chattanooga. Every cup that is served there has a purpose. It's not about making money but making a difference.

“Personally, I am a tea room junkie and I know there's a whole culture of those that are like me in our city. I was raised in tea rooms and drinking hot tea,” said Deven Wallace.

Wallace has loved tea since she was a little girl but she never expected to be in the tea business.

“I was sitting here with a friend having tea when it was Polly Claire's and she knows what we do at Together Café and my heart for women in crisis. She said, Deven, don't you see this is a place of dignity, what better place to restore dignity to women,” Wallace told Local 3 News.

When the restaurant eventually came up for sale, she knew she wanted it.

Wallace turned it into a tea room with a mission.

“When that got in my heart it was over and because I recognized it was bigger than just me having a tea room. I knew this could even further the goals in my heart to see women in this community be restored,” said Wallace.

Deven and her husband, Kevin Wallace, have committed their lives to impacting Chattanooga. They serve as lead pastors of Redemption to the Nations Church and have spent 16 years developing programs to care for human trafficking victims internationally and locally, the past several years, through the Together Café.

When the Genesis House of Tea opened, Wallace was going through a unique journey.

“It was 18 months ago. I was driving down the road in our city and I received a phone call from a local lawyer's office who knew what I was involved in. There was a case of a 14-year-old young girl who was pregnant," said Wallace.

Wallace immediately went into the mode of providing services for the teenager when something unexpected happened.

"I was asked a question I've never been asked. She said, 'would you be willing to take my baby?' and I thought for just a moment and confession, funny story, I didn't even call my husband first. I just said 'yes, yes I will,'” laughed Wallace.

Her decision put her on a new path.

In March, the family adopted the little girl and named her Genesis, the namesake of the tea house.

The experience opened Wallace's eyes to a need in the community, a “gap” as she calls it. She began learning about ways to help young women in crisis pregnancy situations who've been victims of sexual violence.

Several months later, came another unexpected blessing for Wallace. One of the baby's biological relatives was pregnant and needed help too.

"Another courageous woman came to me and said, if you will take my baby I'll do the same so we adopted two precious little ones,” said Wallace.

The couple adopted Genesis’ little brother, Issac, who is 10 months younger.

Deven and Kevin, who have four older children ages 20, 19, 16 and 14, became a family of eight. Deven calls this the “greatest journey of her life.”

When patrons visit the beautiful space at Genesis House of Tea, it’s an experience.

They serve everything from brunch sandwiches to high quality tea.

It’s a space for baby showers, engagement parties, anniversaries and brunches and with each purchase, the business is helping women in a time of need.

“We say every cup of tea restores dignity, identity, and beauty to women who are in crisis,” said Wallace.

A portion of the proceeds from the business goes to its nonprofit partners to help women facing a pregnancy crisis or families looking to adopt.

Genesis House of Tea is located at 6178 Adamson Circle in Chattanooga.


Lori Mitchell joined Local 3 News in February 2017 and co-anchors our morning newscasts on weekday mornings. Lori reports on inspiring stories in her weekly "Making a Difference" segment, featuring people who are making a positive impact in the community.

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