The Women Leading Bigelow Tea, Then and Now

Women of Bigelow Tea, Ruth, Eunice, Lori and Cindi Bigelow

Many know that Bigelow Tea is a third-generation, family-owned business, but did you realize that women from the Bigelow family have profoundly influenced the success of the company today?

With four hundred and fifty employees, manufacturing plants in Idaho, Kentucky, and Connecticut and the largest working tea farm in the United States, The Charleston Tea Garden, Bigelow Tea has become the national market leader producing over two billion tea bags annually which includes the legendary “Constant Comment” ® tea.

Who are these extraordinary women leading this family-owned business?

Founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow Creates “Constant Comment” ® Tea

Inspired by an early colonial recipe in 1945, Ruth Campbell Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Tea, retreated into her New York brownstone kitchen with the idea of creating a better cup of tea. After weeks of trial-and-error blending black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, she emerged with her first cup of specialty tea. Ruth gave the blend to friends who later told her the tea “was a source of constant comment,” and so the tea was named and a company was born.

Eighty years and three generations later, this iconic secret tea recipe is still going strong and is a foundation of history and tradition for millions of Americans who have found joy in a cup of “Constant Comment.”

Co-Chair Eunice Bigelow’s Impact on Bigelow Tea

While the company can attribute its beginnings to Ruth Campbell Bigelow, it was David C Bigelow , Ruth’s son, and his wife Eunice, who launched specialty teas through grocery channels in the 1970s which changed the company’s direction in profound ways and laid the groundwork for the future of tea in the U.S.

With that expansion, and recognizing that the market needed a refreshing mint tea, Eunice Bigelow, over fifty years ago, took on the challenge of developing a new recipe in her kitchen. Just like Ruth Campbell Bigelow did eighty years ago with “Constant Comment,” Eunice created one of her first blends for the company, Perfectly Mint tea, which is an adored black tea with American grown spearmint.

Another substantial contribution from both Eunice and David came in the form of an investment in the preservation of the Charleston Tea Garden in South Carolina which was saved and restored to its former grandeur as America’s largest working tea farm. The farm’s visitor center documents the tea growing, harvesting and withering processes and welcomes 70,000 visitors annually.

Co-President Lori Bigelow’s Flavorful Contributions To Bigelow Tea

When it came to tea, Lori Bigelow had a gift for creating flavorful and exciting tea recipes. During her thirty-five years working at Bigelow Tea where she and her sister, Cindi Bigelow, held co-president titles until Lori’s retirement in 2006, Lori learned the nuances of making specialty teas. Her sense of blending, sipping, tasting and tweaking ultimately led to the development of some of the company’s most successful and cherished teas like Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea, Green Tea with Pomegranate, seasonal favorite Ginger Snappish® and Vanilla Chai which are just a few of the many varieties she created. Lori was known in the industry as one of the premier tea flavoring experts in the world due to her knowledge, skills and ability to take a product like tea and create new and interesting flavors.

Before retiring, Lori served on the board of the Tea Association of the U.S.A. and was a member of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. She was also instrumental in Bigelow Tea’s purchase and restoration of the Charleston Tea Garden which grows and produces American Classic Tea.

Lori, who passed away in 2020, was also beloved for her amazing creativity, warmth, nurturing nature, and her wonderful sense of humor.

Today’s Third Generation President And CEO, Cindi Bigelow

Ruth Campbell Bigelow and her son David C.and wife Eunice lead the company with integrity, passion, intelligence, kindness and a spirit of determination. Those values are still the cornerstone of Bigelow Tea’s success and corporate culture today which continues with third-generation, president and CEO, Cindi Bigelow.

Through the leadership of Cindi, the company continues to expand and transform the tea industry. To ensure that the finest teas and botanicals remain the highest of quality in her family’s tea recipes, Cindi visits and continues to build strong partnerships with gardens all over the world from the tea estates in the Assam and Darjeeling regions of India, Sri Lanka, and China, to Calabria’s family-run bergamot orchards, to the farms in Oregon and California, all of whom are long time partners with Bigelow Tea.

Cindi has expanded the tea market overall by listening to consumer’s needs and wants. Through product innovation, Bigelow Tea has expanded through the Bigelow Tea Signature line, seasonal tea products, cold brew, organic, wellness and immune support teas that feature ingredients with functional benefits as well as Botanicals Cold Water Infusion which, different from iced tea, are gentle herbal infusions using cold water. 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Additionally, under Cindi’s management, Bigelow Tea has developed sustainable practices carried out throughout the organization. Related to sustainable waste management practices, Bigelow Tea has maintained Zero Waste to Landfill operations since 2012, meaning that 95% of all facility waste is disposed of sustainably. In 2020, Bigelow Tea earned the designation of being a Green-e® Certified company (the national leader in clean energy certification) using 100% renewable energy for all Bigelow locations in the United States. In 2019, Bigelow Tea became a Certified B Corporation and was then recertified in 2022. This designation officially recognizes Bigelow Tea’s commitment to sustainability that has been part of the company’s DNA since it was founded by Ruth Campbell Bigelow, eighty years ago. Re-certification proves how intentional Bigelow Tea remains behind the commitment to a purpose far beyond making profits, where the aim is to always do better. Bigelow Tea is committed to good citizenship, ethical business practices, accountability and transparency, protecting the environment, sustainability and supporting communities local to all Bigelow Tea facilities which includes the annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge, a community-supported road race and walk fundraiser that has contributed over $2 million to local non-profits since 1988. 

With generations of women leading the company, Bigelow Tea remains true to its mission for making a difference every day for tea drinkers everywhere. Through the artisanship and dedication that goes into making every cup of tea delicious and healthy, to Cindi Bigelow carrying on her grandmother’s, mother’s and sister’s legacy of giving back to people and the planet, Bigelow Tea continues to prove that purpose is so much more than making profits and every Bigelow tea drinker knows this with every sip they enjoy.