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In this episode of Mississippi Stories, Mississippi Today Editor-at-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with one of the owners and founders of The Great Mississippi Tea Company, Jason McDonald. Jason graduated valedictorian of his class at Hammond High [Magnet] School in Hammond, Louisiana. He graduated from Millsaps College in 2001 with a BA in Religious Studies. He attended law school at Mississippi College School of Law until 2010, when he realized that law was not his life’s work.

In January 2010, Jason became a partner of McDonald Land and Timber, LLC with other members of his family. As a timber farmer, Jason saw first-hand the decimation that a hurricane the size of Katrina can leave in its wake for farmers. Jason set off to find a crop that is ethically sustainable and environmentally friendly and can survive a hurricane with little to no damage. Jason stumbled upon a venture in the land of his forefathers in South Carolina, The Charleston Tea Plantation. Jason decided that tea may well be the next boom crop for Mississippi and the United States, after all, tea is the second-most consumed beverage on the planet besides water. There is only one problem; tea is not widely grown in the First World because of labor costs and human rights.

Jason has set about researching all aspects of the industry, consulting with some of the most decorated people in the tea world, and enlisting many industrial, manufacturing, and machine professionals to tear apart and rebuild the tea industry to make it work in the developed world, just as he did when he was a child. It is because of this curiosity and ingenuity that we are proud to have him as the driving force behind The Great Mississippi Tea Company. His is a story of resilience, pivoting, growing and entrepreneurial spirit. And The Great Mississippi Tea Company continues to grow and win international acclaim for its Mississippi-grown teas.

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Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.