“We’ve been making tea for three generations, and we get better every year.”David Bigelow
Ruth Campbell Bigelow had been a designer by trade. In 1945, inspired by an early Colonial recipe and dissatisfied with the commodity tea that was commonplace in the 1940s, Ruth focused her creative energies on formulating a better cup of tea in the kitchen of her New York City brownstone. After weeks of trial and error, blending black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, she emerged with the first cup of specialty tea in the country. Ruth shared her tea with friends and received many comments—in fact, “constant comments.” Her new brew got its name, and the Bigelow Tea Company was born.
David E. Bigelow, also known as David Sr. started his career in publishing. He later moved into the brokerage business later in life where he sold various foods which would help in his partnership with Ruth when they started the Bigelow Tea business.
After Bigelow Tea was formed, David oversaw all the finances, ensuring that he and Ruth watched their pennies so that the fledgling business could survive. He outlived his wife, Ruth Campbell by a few years and carried the same strong work ethic as Ruth. David Sr. came to the office every day and worked side by side with his son, David Jr. until right before his passing in 1970 at the age of 91.
While the company can attribute its beginnings to David Bigelow’s mother and the advent of Constant Comment in 1945, it was David and Eunice who pioneered the explosion in variety teas that Americans enjoy today. David, with the unwavering support of his wife Eunice, lead the company with integrity, passion, intelligence, kindness and a spirit of determination to its current prominence as the country’s #1 specialty tea company.
Their idea to launch specialty tea to mass market through grocery channels in the 1970s changed the company’s direction in profound ways and paved the way for the future of tea in the U.S. Another notable milestone in their luminous careers was the development of the foil pouch that has become the accepted industry standard for protecting tea’s freshness and flavor from ambient influences.
Today, as co-chairmen of the family-run company, they continue to personally taste and approve the blends for the 120 different teas the company now produces. And much to their credit, they made a considerable investment in the preservation of the Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina, saving it from the developer’s wrecking ball and restoring it to its former grandeur as America’s only working tea farms. The farm’s visitor center documents the tea growing, harvesting and withering processes, giving over 60,000 people who visit annually a new-found appreciation for this remarkable beverage.
Before assuming her role as the third generation president and CEO of family-owned Bigelow Tea in 2005, Cindi Bigelow spent 20 years in virtually all areas of the company that her grandmother founded. Cindi is instrumental in expanding Bigelow Tea into new channels while building awareness and brand engagement across social media—all to ensure Bigelow Tea is accessible everywhere, 24/7.
As passionate as she is about producing the finest cup of tea, Cindi is equally concerned about community and sustainability issues. She initiated the Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge that has donated over $1 million to local charities and participates in volunteer projects that include Habitat for Humanity’s Adopt-a-Home program. Under her leadership, the company was one of the first in Connecticut to install solar panels to offset energy usage, and she has implemented other innovations that have earned Bigelow Tea the distinction of being a Zero Waste to Landfill company.
Cindi holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management and Honorary Doctorates from Fairfield University and the University of New Haven. She frequently makes appearances speaking to students and industry leaders, sharing insights on business ethics and career development and has received numerous awards for her years of community service. Favorite pastimes include being with her children, skiing, tennis, yoga and drinking lots of tea.
Lori Bigelow grew up in a family that specializes in developing tea. She earned her degree at Keene State College before joining the family business, Bigelow Tea, where she learned the nuances of making specialty teas including a sense of blending, sipping, tasting and tweaking which ultimately led to the development of some of Bigelow’s favorite and best loved teas. The seasonal favorite Ginger Snappish®, Vanilla Chai and the Novus line are just a few of many of the blends she created. Before retiring, was on the board of the U.S. Tea Association and a former member of the Canadian Tea Association. She was instrumental in the Bigelow Tea’s purchase and restoration of the Charleston Tea Plantation. The South Carolina Plantation grows and produces American Classic Tea and is open for tours and weddings.