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Archives for the ‘Cindi’s Message’ Category

Cindi Bigelow Travels To Sri Lanka: Tea Auction

Previously, we shared that Cindi Bigelow was heading to Sri Lanka to explore tea fields and tea auctions.  Cindi previously shared her first full day and below she shares the experience of a tea auction.  Enjoy!

Niraj de Mel and Cindi Bigelow outside the Tea Auction (no photos allowed once inside)

A real Colombo Sri Lanka tea auction…it was everything I had heard of and more! Three rooms filled with tea exporters all bidding on specific type teas. Rooms were dedicated to either low-grown teas of certain grades (leaf sizes like the famous orange pekoe, or OP as it is called in the trade), or medium-to-high elevation grown teas and the original type teas of Ceylon (or Sri Lanka as it has been called since 1971), the type Bigelow buys.

Rooms filled with so many buyers who have such trained palates and discerning eyes that they can look at the leaf and tell you where on the mountains it was grown!  With one sip they can tell you the plantation it was grown on and if it was processed properly. They can even taste if the harvesters have done a good job plucking the proper “two tender leaves and a bud,” not mature leaves that are not nearly as pleasant to consume.

Our stay during the morning was certainly noticed. There was not one trader who wasn’t checking out who these new comers were!  It was so fun.

Cindi Bigelow

A Bigelow Tea Holiday Message

During this special time of year, given all that has recently gone on around us, we need to make sure we take the time to remember what is truly important…our loved ones, both our family and our friends.

Sending you only the warmest of wishes,

Cindi Bigelow

With Heavy Hearts, Bigelow Tea Grieves For The Lives Lost Today

Our hearts go out to all the families that have been personally affected by this horrific crime in Newtown CT. A crime of this magnitude is unprecedented, both for our state and community. The aftermath of sorrow and pain is incomprehensible. Our deepest regrets for this horrendous crime go out to all. Our community will never forget the impact of what has taken place today. With heavy hearts, The Bigelow Family

(image via Flickr by Arne Hulstein)

Fairfield County Business Journal’s First Ever CFO OF THE YEAR AWARD Awarded To Bigelow CFO Don Janezic

Don Janezic

Recipient of the First Annual

Fairfield County Business Journal


OMG it was a wonderful event!  Please join me in congratulating Bigelow CFO Don Janezic on receiving Fairfield County Business Journal’s first ever CFO OF THE YEAR AWARD.  The Bigelow family and entire staff already know what a remarkably caring and diligent man Don is, but it’s especially gratifying to know that his professional peers outside the company recognize him with the same high regard that we do.  A consummate pro, it’s an honor to have him in our ranks.  Way to go Don!  We’re all so proud of youand wish you every continued success!

Cindi Bigelow


Cindi Bigelow Travels To Sri Lanka: First Full Day

Previously, we shared that Cindi Bigelow was heading to Sri Lanka to explore tea fields and tea auctions and it took many hours to get there. Enjoy Cindi’s account below of her first full day!

Sri Lanka Trip: First Full Day in Sri Lanka

OK, my first full day in Sri Lanka, it was better than I ever could have hoped.   Growing up in a 3-generation family tea business, I thought I already know a lot about tea but I learned so much! The people in this country are so passionate and so knowledgeable about this precious gem that they have been producing here since the 1860’s.  It is truly inspirational.

We spent the morning with one of our most long-time and treasured partners, Van Rees and their amazing team led by Niraj de Mel. He has over 30 years in the business and his knowledge of the industry was truly amazing. He is the quintessential professional, intelligent, poised, articulate and warm. He made our VP of the Tea Division John McCraw and I immediately feel at home. We felt as if we had known each other for years.

They took us through cup after cup of tea to share with us exactly what they look for when buying for us. Their ability to taste the smallest of nuances was both awesome and comforting.

These people could not be better partners. They knew exactly what we wanted and more importantly how the teas would hold up over time. That is of critical importance to my family. I could have listened to Niraj for days. Then we watched them prepare for a tea auction in which we would be attending tomorrow; I was so excited to being seeing a live tea auction!  Niraj, his associate Prasanna Panabooke and all the others on the team review 12,000 samples a week for color, for size, for quality; it is amazing to watch them in action.  It truly took our breath away to watch these guys work through the samples.  I could never have imagined how intricate and delicate a process it was for these wonderful people to consistently gets teas that match the Bigelow standard month after month. We were in good hands!

I also got to visit a Sri Lankan tea packer after leaving Niraj and was able to see their operation and their people packing different teas for various customers around the world. Different than us but valuable to see for sure.

In just a matter of a few hours, we had come to realize how much tea is steeped in centuries of tradition and what a global beverage it truly is.  I also feel so blessed that my family and i are a part of this tea community. After only one day in Sri Lanka i got a much better understanding of what tea means to the world. Now i could see first-hand how tea was the second most consumed beverage in the world (after water).

Back to the hotel we went for we needed to get ready for our next experience, dinner with our wonderful hosts.

We met up with Niraj and several of his associates at around 7pm. They took us to a wonderful Sri Lankan restaurant.  Besides the outstanding food that we enjoyed, the conversation with our Sri Lankan partners was fascinating. We not only talked tea but we talked global politics and Sri Lanka history. The conversation flowed and the evening flew by. It was the perfect end to the perfect first day!  This was clearly going to be a week like no other in my life.

Cindi Bigelow

Cindi Bigelow Travels To Sri Lanka To Explore Tea Fields and Tea Auctions

Ceylon tea, renowned the world over for its full-bodied taste and inviting aroma, is grown in Sri Lanka, an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia.  Join Cindi Bigelow as she journeys to this far-away place to explore the tea fields and tea auctions of Sri Lanka, where this world-class beverage originates. 

Sri Lanka Trip: Getting There

Wow, my first trip to the tea fields of Sri Lanka and it’s been amazing. It takes 24 hours of travel to get to Sri Lanka. We went through Dubai and flying into that city was breathtaking.  Seeing the tallest building in the world was truly special. Then we took off landing first in the Maldives. The water was a see-through blue.  The weather looked outstanding.

Taking off from Mali

Just before the plane was getting ready to take off to Colombo (the capital of Sri Lanka) the attendant came up and said to us if we didn’t mind, they wanted to upgrade us to FIRST CLASS. Didn’t mind???  We almost fell out of our seats!  Emirates Air first class…never thought I would see that in my lifetime.  So our last part of our 24 hour journey was going in style.  Here we come Sri Lanka…..let the journey continue.


Bigelow President Cindi Bigelow, and VP of Tea Division, John McCraw, upon learning of upgrade.

Cindi Bigelow


A Bigelow Tea Note Of Thanks

I don’t need to tell you that Hurricane Sandy was a record storm that affected thousands in the Northeast and eastern seaboard region. Today, many families are still dealing with the unimaginable consequences of this devastating storm. All of us continue to pray for this entire area and hope for the best recovery possible.

Bigelow Tea, while affected, was fortunate when you take everything else into account. After being among the 97% of homes and businesses in the shoreline town of Fairfield, Connecticut that have been without power for nearly a week, I can now report that most power to the area has been restored and Bigelow Tea is once again fully operational and ready to serve.

I have to say, watching the service crews (from all over the country) driving down our roads to help restore our utilities and services was truly inspiring. I felt like I should honk and cheer as we passed them on the road to let them know just how appreciated they are after the 16 hour days they were putting into our community. I then watched the same kind of dedication from our amazing first-response team made up of Bigelow employees. These individuals worked long, exhausting hours to inspect our facility for safety and ensure systems were up and running before the full complement of Bigelow staff could return. These individuals are our true heroes in every sense of the word and all of us at Bigelow are so grateful. We are thankful for the leadership roles they demonstrated and for their ingenuity and perseverance and, even more important, for their camaraderie and concern shown to one another.

We are mostly grateful for everyone’s safety. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. Bless all of you that help mitigate the consequences of this challenging experience called Hurricane Sandy!

Cindi Bigelow

25 Years To Celebrate With The Bigelow Tea Community Challenge

The 25th annual Bigelow Tea Community was held this past Sunday at Wakeman’s Boys and Girls Club in Southport.

For a few days before, the weather was looking very unfriendly. The preregistration numbers were slightly down and I was uncertain as to what would be the outcome of this day that has been the focus of a lot of people’s efforts in this company for almost a year! So as it got closer, I just kept my fingers crossed. Well, as fate would have it, that morning turned out to be a runner’s dream…little overcast, not too hot but no chance of rain. As the day progressed, the sun kept shining down on us!

The numbers dramatically moved from “a little light” a few days before to our best race ever.

The money raised was the largest amount ever!

And the community support was clearly the most ever.

We had two outstanding proclamations given to us both claiming this past Sunday as the Bigelow Community Challenge Day. Both the city of Bridgeport (presented by Mayor Finch of Bridgeport) and also for the state (sent to us from Governor Malloy) each gave us a proclamation. We had all walks of life there, spanning many generations. We even had a dog in the race wearing one of our T-Shirts. The comments from the participants when we finished the event will linger in my mind for a long time…people in our community just love this special event.  The race committee was proud, the Mayor who read the proclamation was proud, the members of our community that participated were proud and so was I.

A reporter asked me that day, “Did you ever imagine this event would grow to the size it is today?”

I thought about it for a while then turned to him and said, “You know, when we started this race 25 years ago, we just wanted to do something for the community. We raised $3000 and had 50 participants, mostly from our company. And from there, we just wanted to continue to do good work. So that has been our focus, how can we do it better each year? What more can we do to make this event special? And it was in pursuing those answers that this race continued to grow. That philosophy has served me well my entire life, just do the right thing and good things will follow.”

The reporter nodded his head and smiled. What more can I say?

Cindi Bigelow

25th Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge Sponsor Party

Wow an amazing evening!  A couple of nights ago we had our 25th Bigelow Tea Community Challenge Sponsor Party where close to twenty of our sponsors and nine of the charities we support attended. It was two beautiful hours together honoring the great work that the charities do as well as the wonderful generosity of our sponsors.

What really struck me during the event was how blessed I am to be able to do what all of us at Bigelow love doing and that is giving back. I have an amazing race committee, extremely supportive sponsors and truly appreciative nonprofits, a real trifecta.

The 5k Road Race, 2-Mile Fitness Walk and Kids’ Fun Run is going to be this Sunday, rain or shine.  Whatever the weather, in my opinion the 25th annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge is already a huge success just based on my experiences at the sponsor party. I really can’t thank all the people enough in my life that make this event happen, I really am lucky, wow!

To get a glimpse of what I am talking about for the actual event, check out this video and enjoy!


Cindi Bigelow


25th Anniversary of the Bigelow Tea Community Challenge

SO EXCITED…we are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year of holding the Bigelow Tea Community Challenge. This little race began on September 10, 1988 ( yes, my wedding day) and it was about 50 people (made up of all Bigelow employees with a few friends). I remember I blew the whistle then turneded around and ran in the race (my first and only road race I ran in). It was so special. All the proceeds, which was about $3000, went to the Norwalk High School. We created a scholarship for an employee’s son who had died a few months earlier in a car accident (the young man, Dave, went to Norwalk HS).

Today, we have raised over $100,000 and we have almost 1200 people participate-it is truly a family affair. I love this day-rain or shine. So many people smiling away, enjoying themselves and doing good things for their body and spirit.

Oh yeah, here comes the 25th Challenge: who could have imagined this many years later, that that little race we started so many years ago would be what it is today! Brings a big smile to my face!

Cindi Bigelow