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Taste the Journey of the Cloud County Tea Company

By Linda Sutton

The Teas ...
Autumn Orchard
Blueberry Bliss
Cherry Lane
Conestoga
Meadow Lark
Prairie Rose
Reveille
Santa Fe Trader
Tranquil Trails
Wild Prairie Mist

The Gluten-free Foods ...
All purpose baking mix
Chocolate chip cookie mix
Cocoa mudslide cookie mix
Chocolate mint fudge brownie mix
Decadent chocolate fudge brownie mix
Extreme chocolate cake mix
Yellow velvet cake mix
Holiday gingerbread
Lemon poppy seed bread & muffin mix
Pancake and waffle mix
Seasoned breading & batter mix
Spice cake and muffin mix
Rise-n-shine blueberry rice mix
Country apple-cinnamon rice mix
Italian herb and lemon rice mix
Exotic curry rice mix
Southwest chipotle & lime rice mix

The journey has been swift, but not always smooth, for co-owners Johnita Crawford and Lorraine Palmer. However, their Cloud County Teas offered a quiet moment along the way.

Located in Clyde, a small hometown community of 909 people in North Central Kansas, Cloud County Teas has grown quickly. Begun in a converted Baptist church, the early years were all about finding the right blends of teas. Soon two storage buildings were filled as they outgrew their church building.

The tea ladies give much credit to us at the Small Business Development Center for helping turn “two women in business into two business women ... We learned that having a wonderful product is not enough. To run and grow a successful business you need a plan … and the knowledge to implement it,” Johnita said.

Having developed the right blends, they were ready for assistance from the SBDC to write a business plan, prepare financial projections, and obtain a loan to grow.

Cloud County Tea Company’s mission is to offer the finest herbal teas without additives or chemicals. Johnita and Lorraine believe nature knows best and that do artificial ingredients or flavor additives are unnecessary for the creation of premium blends.

Their intimate knowledge of herbs helps them make herbal teas that are full of wholesome goodness and flavor. Only chemical and pesticide-free, natural or organic, and non-irradiated ingredients are used. They look for their ingretients locally and around the world.

The two enterprising tea ladies are setting their sites for worldwide exposure and are marketing thier teas in 80 stores in thirteen states and counting. Their slogan, “Real herbs, real fruit, real spices…the real reason you drink herbal tea,” says it all.

These are two real businesswomen with real dreams and they don't stop with teas. They have recently expanded their product line to include gluten-free baking mixes, a line of wheat-free products especially designed for those with gluten, lactose, and nut allergies. This 17-plus product line includes several kinds of cake and cookie mixes, a pancake/waffle mix, and Sidekicks side dishes. Two companies, Lormar Distributing (specialty food division for Hy-Vee Stores) and Garden Spot Distributors, market Cloud County Tea Company’s Gluten-Free Essentials line.

Lorraine became interested in gluten-free foods over 20 years ago with the birth of her first son. After many doctors’ visits and tests that led nowhere, he was finally correctly diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance, or Celiac Disease. This autoimmune inflammatory disease of the small intestine is triggered by the proteins found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, interfering with the absorption of nutrients into the body. When Lorraine’s second son started on solid foods, it became apparent that he, too, was gluten intolerant.

Since diet control is the only treatment for Celiac Disease, many years of trial and error led Lorraine to develop products that have great flavor and texture. Working with her sons, and now grandchildren who are gluten intolerant, Lorraine and Johnita provide healthy products that are fun, convenient and delicious—and available to anyone!

Crawford and Palmer intend to keep the business in Clyde and make a difference in the economic outlook in their community by hiring local employees.

 

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Last Updated April 6, 2009
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