By Jenn Ballentine
Katrell Christie, owner of Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party in Candler Park, sells her tea not for a profit, but for a cause. Christie sells over 65 different kinds of green and black tea, with all the proceeds going directly to educating orphaned girls and underprivileged children in Darjeeling, India.
Founded after one of Christie’s tea-finding trips to India in July 2009, the Learning Tea Project currently funds one year of a university education for three orphan girls at a cost of $500 per year per girl. These girls, many of whom would otherwise be forced to turn to a life of prostitution, are receiving valuable knowledge and tools to enable them to rise beyond their situation. Of the 56 girls in the orphanage, these three are the first to have the opportunity to achieve higher education.
The Learning Tea Project also supports a small elementary school in Darjeeling. After seeing the appalling conditions under which these children were being educated, Christie decided to dedicate some of her profits to this school. For just $30, Christie was able to purchase shoes for all the children, who previously had none. In 2010, Christie has pledged to purchase new uniforms for the children, help install a working toilet in the school and, most importantly, support the teacher’s salary.
Each box of tea Christie sells at Dr. Bombay’s is labeled with a saying such as “I am new shoes in Darjeeling.” This, said Christie, is so people know what they are supporting. In addition to purchasing shoes and other items for the children, Christie purchases her tea, which she handpicked and selected after careful research, from Darjeeling and helps support many of the children’s parents, who work as porters or tea pickers. In this way, Christie said, “it comes full circle.”
Inspired by Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea, Christie’s goal is to build a school in India. In the meantime, Christie plans to travel back to India next summer with three volunteers. Through this small project, Christie hopes to make a difference in these children’s lives. “Anybody can do something to help someone’s future. It doesn’t take a million dollars,” she said.
Dr. Bombay’s supports other social causes as well. Stocked with over 5,000 books, Dr. Bombay’s sells these used books donated by neighborhood residents and others for 50 cents each. All proceeds from book sales go directly to Noah’s Ark, an animal rehabilitation center in Locust Grove, Ga.
Christie feels strongly about giving back to her community and offering others an opportunity to do so. “This is a neighborhood place. I love that people in this community care about projects like these.”
While Christie did not start Dr. Bombay’s with the intention of supporting social causes such as girls’ education and animal welfare, she felt she could do good through it. “I just needed an outlet and a space to work from,” she said.
Former employee Mandy Sewell loved working with Christie and still continues to support her. “When she went to the orphanage and got to know the kids, it really struck a chord with her. She came up with a really cool way to help them through the tea. It’s a great cause – the money goes so much farther there,” said Sewell.
In addition to selling tea, Dr. Bombay’s sells an assortment of baked goods made daily from scratch including vegan, organic and gluten-free options. High tea is available every day from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tea for two is $25 and includes a pot of tea, assorted cookies or mini cupcakes, scones, and finger sandwiches. Dr. Bombay’s also offers a Mommy and Me Tea on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information about Dr. Bombay’s, visit www.drbombays.com or the shop at 1645 McLendon Ave.