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Archives for the ‘Responsibility’ Category

Happiness Is Honey (And Bigelow Tea!)

 

Oh, hey, honey. You’ve been around for a really long time, and guess what? You are totally loved. Not just by Bigelow Tea, but all over the world! And to all those honey lovers out there, here are just a few reasons why honey is the best – and no, it’s not just because September is National Honey Month!

For starters, honey is ancient… in the best of ways, of course! Honey production flourished in ancient Spain, Greece, Sicily and India, and was used to sweeten different foods. The spiritual and therapeutic use of honey in India is documented in Ayurveda texts, which are more than 4,000 years old. However, cave paintings in Spain from 7000BC show the earliest records of beekeeping, and there are fossils of honey bees that date back about 150 million years! Wow! A source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, honey—particularly in its raw form—offers unique health benefits. According to research, it’s used as a natural cough suppressant, may help heal wounds and reduce allergy symptoms, and may offer a quick energy boost.

But, to become the honey we all know and love, did you know how much work goes into a jar of honey? To start, honey bees make honey from the nectar they collect from flowers. The 60,000 or so bees in a beehive may collectively travel as much as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey. And, on average, a honey bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over the course of its life. To put that into perspective, two tablespoons of honey would be enough to fuel a bee’s entire flight around the world.

Honey in general is a golden color, yet not all types are alike. The color and flavor can depend on where the honeybees get their nectar. Honey can have a lighter hue and a mild taste or be darker with a stronger flavor. In fact, according to the National Honey Board, there are more than 300 types of honey available in the United States, from flower sources ranging from alfalfa to tupelo!

Unfortunately, bee populations all over the country are drastically declining. In the past few years, experts warned that four species of bees native to Connecticut, where Bigelow Tea’s headquarters are located, had disappeared from the state in the last 10 years. So, we decided to take action on the bees’ behalf and even planted more flowers on our corporate property along an urban train track fence in the hopes of providing bees with a better natural habitat.

Honey adds a little sweetness to the day (and cup!), so we want to make sure it’s around for many, many days to come. It could be easy to take for granted, but we’d sure miss it if it ever ran out! Add a little honey to your favorite Bigelow Tea (it’s awesome!), or try a cup of Chamomile Vanilla Herbal Tea with Honey before turning in for the night, and let’s show those bees how much they’re loved. Because without them, we wouldn’t have honey.

Bigelow Tea Honors National Day Of Service And Remembrance

You don’t need an excuse to help others and make a difference in your community, but the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance is a wonderful reason to volunteer – especially as you pay tribute to and remember the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks. As a family-owned company with long-standing roots in our community, Bigelow Tea takes pride in the work our employees do year-round to assist organizations, those in need and great causes. Here are a few of our favorite stories:

Passing on sustainable practices to future generations.

“Inspired by the results of the composting program here at Bigelow Tea, our family also included composting into our weekly schedule at home. We have been separating out most of the kitchen waste, tea bags (a lot of those) and paper towels, etc. since the summer of 2013. Now that my children are older, the do-it yourself-style sand box has been ‘up-cycled’ to ‘organically’ create good soil over time… This is one way our children are learning that maintaining the cycle and balance in nature is possible even in a suburban environment and a small contribution like ours can make a difference.” Gabe K, Fairfield, CT

A source of inspiration.

For more than 18 years, Caroline House has successfully taught immigrant women English (ESL).  Caroline House also provides a free preschool, after-school and summer tutoring to elementary and middle school children, citizenship classes, and life skills classes. Caroline House has recently instituted a Sources of Inspiration Board. These women will serve as a resource for Caroline House students (and all of us!) for inspirational stories to give hope for the future. We are honored to have Janned Serrano as our first Sources of Inspiration Board member. She is Executive Assistant to Cindi Bigelow, President of Bigelow Tea, and Community Relations Coordinator.

Janned Serrano’s advice to Caroline House graduates:

  • Surround yourself with English-speaking people.
  • Speak English everywhere, even if it is not perfect.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “what does that mean?”
  • Read books written in English.
  • Take a risk. If someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes, even if you don’t know how.

Helping those in need.

“I was coming to work around 6:30 a.m. [one day] and… there was a soldier in full uniform with all his medals waiting by the side of the road. It was a rainy day and… he needed a ride to Boise. I stopped and offered to give him a ride to his destination. It turns out that he was going to a Wounded Warrior presentation… but his vehicle had a flat tire and he had to go on foot. He (Jim) told me his dilemma about being a forty-year veteran and how hard it is to get a job after being in the military that long; that the money just doesn’t last as long and not having a job does not help either. He told me a story about applying for a security job at a computer company in Boise and that he was told that he did not have enough experience in security to be considered for the position. I dropped him off at his destination, gave him my gratitude for his service and some money… If that is impacting our community in a positive manner, then I do that every day by serving as a leader in my community.” Javier Reyes, Boise, Idaho

Caring about the bees.

“I participated in a worthwhile community event, ‘Bee Night,’ which took place at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Urban Garden located in downtown Charleston. Bee Night was an event hosted by the Bee Cause Project, an organization whose mission is to educate young people about the importance of honeybees and their wellbeing. They do this by installing beehives in area schools. In 2013, the USDA released a report with concern that the U.S. does not have enough honeybees to pollinate crops, which would impact our nation’s food supply. Along with the many beehives that they have installed in area schools, they have installed an observation beehive at the MUSC Urban garden, a garden whose mission is to build a healthier community by growing crops and educating people with local, nutritious food. This Beehive was unveiled at ‘Bee Night’ and the community was invited to attend the special event. I took several gallons of unsweetened tea to the event. We sweetened the tea at the event with the honey produced by the bees and attendees enjoyed Charleston Tea Plantation tea sweetened with local honey.”  Jane Knight, Charleston, SC

Our community garden which grows fresh vegetables for the local Bridgeport Rescue Mission is another example of giving back as well as the annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge which has raised over $1.4 million for local charities since its inception thirty years ago.

A big part of #TeaProudly is being able to share stories and memories which includes efforts make in service to others. Share your stories about something as involved as landscaping or building a house for a family in need, or as simple as brewing a cup of tea and sharing some time with a homebound person in your neighborhood. Regardless, take time to think about what you can do in honor of this day of service. Cheers!

Bigelow Tea’s 30th Annual Community Challenge Is Almost Here!

Get excited, because Bigelow Tea’s Annual Community Challenge is about to turn the BIG 3-0! Running? Check! Walking? Check! Family-friendly fun? Check! Goodie bags and raffle prizes? Check and check! Seriously, this is the place to be on September 24! Plus, 30 is a pretty special milestone – come help Bigelow Tea celebrate this fantastic community event. Here are the details!

The when and the where

This year’s event will take place on Sunday, September 24, at the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club in Southport, Connecticut! Lace up your running shoes and join in the 5K Road Race or 2-Mile Fitness Walk; participants receive t-shirts and goodie bags, plus are eligible for the chance to win great raffle prizes.

Totally family-friendly – bring the kids!

The kiddos will love the KidZone, which is open to Pre-K through 6thgraders, includes a 100-yard scamper and 1-mile run, along with Hula Hoop, zig-zag and jumping challenges. Also, there’s free babysitting for all runners and walkers, so you have no excuses! Woohoo!

Don’t forget the after party…

As if a fun run isn’t enough of a party, sit back and listen to live music outdoors while nibbling on tasty bites from the post-race food buffet. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a picture with Biggie the Tea Bar Mascot!

Most importantly, give back!

What’s best about the event is that it’s a fun way to give back to the community while having a great time with family and friends. Since the event’s inception, Bigelow Tea has raised more than $1.2 million dollars for local charities that provide everything from educational services and counseling, to shelter and food. The event raised $150,000 last year, so let’s do our best to beat that number this year!

Okay, I’m in!

Run, don’t walk, to the registration page… it’s going to be tons of fun and you’re not going to want to miss it!

It’s moments like crossing the finish line at the Community Challenge or knowing that you’re contributing to local charities that you can be proud of. And they make great memories to share with friends or family over a cup of tea, whether it’s been a few days or a few decades. This event is definitely worth joining or supporting if you can, and worth raising a cup to no matter what. It’s just one of many reasons we can all #TeaProudly. Hope to see you there!

Honor Labor Day With Love, Kindness & Generosity

Labor Day, a time to celebrate American working men and women. Today almost 160 million Americans work. A job is one of the critical elements to allowing individuals and families to have stability in their life. So let’s honor this special day and celebrate with love, kindness and generosity to all those around you.  – The Bigelow Family

4 Times (Among Many) When Bigelow Tea Employees Made a Difference



Employees are the backbone of Bigelow Tea. As a family-owned company, Bigelow built its brand with its people – beginning with Ruth Campbell Bigelow – and that commitment gets repaid in kind with the dedication each employee shows in their work and within their communities. Simply said, Bigelow Tea employees are incredible. In fact, it’s their efforts that make Bigelow Tea a more sustainable company and, frankly, a stronger corporate citizen.
But, don’t take it from us, hear from them with these inspiring stories:

Passing on sustainable practices to future generations.
“Inspired by the results of the composting program here at Bigelow Tea, our family also included composting into our weekly schedule at home. We have been separating out most of the kitchen waste, tea bags (a lot of those) and paper towels, etc. since the summer of 2013. Now that my children are older, the do-it yourself-style sand box has been ‘up-cycled’ to ‘organically’ create good soil over time… This is one way our children are learning that maintaining the cycle and balance in nature is possible even in a suburban environment and a small contribution like ours can make a difference.” Gabe K, Fairfield, CT

Helping those in need.
“I was coming to work around 6:30 a.m. [one day] and… there was a soldier in full uniform with all his medals waiting by the side of the road. It was a rainy day and… he needed a ride to Boise. I stopped and offered to give him a ride to his destination. It turns out that he was going to a Wounded Warrior presentation… but his vehicle had a flat tire and he had to go on foot. He (Jim) told me his dilemma about being a forty-year veteran and how hard it is to get a job after being in the military that long; that the money just doesn’t last as long and not having a job does not help either. He told me a story about applying for a security job at a computer company in Boise and that he was told that he did not have enough experience in security to be considered for the position. I dropped him off at his destination, gave him my gratitude for his service and some money… If that is impacting our community in a positive manner, then I do that every day by serving as a leader in my community.” Javier Reyes, Boise, Idaho

Caring about the bees.
“I participated in a worthwhile community event, ‘Bee Night,’ which took place at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Urban Garden located in downtown Charleston. Bee Night was an event hosted by the Bee Cause Project, an organization whose mission is to educate young people about the importance of honeybees and their wellbeing. They do this by installing beehives in area schools. In 2013, the USDA released a report with concern that the U.S. does not have enough honeybees to pollinate crops, which would impact our nation’s food supply. Along with the many beehives that they have installed in area schools, they have installed an observation beehive at the MUSC Urban garden, a garden whose mission is to build a healthier community by growing crops and educating people with local, nutritious food. This Beehive was unveiled at ‘Bee Night’ and the community was invited to attend the special event. I took several gallons of unsweetened tea to the event. We sweetened the tea at the event with the honey produced by the bees and attendees enjoyed Charleston Tea Plantation tea sweetened with local honey.”  Jane Knight, Charleston, SC

Maintaining a Local Playground

A Bigelow Tea team spent the day weeding, mulching, sweeping the sand up, repairing the walkway and more which is part of an annual tradition in providing upkeep at the Sandcastle playground in Fairfield, CT.  The picture was taken by the memorial to Beth Davis, playground organizer (with president and CEO Cindi Bigelow).  Pictured are Jim Gildea, Richard Queen, Sandra Thompson, Frances Garcia, Alcides Turcios, Tomas Rivera, Ramon Figueroa, Anais Cuevas, Marcel Welfare, Manny Leon, Alberto Calzada, Eddy  Cotter, and Victor Gonzalez.

As you can see, our employees take pride in their contributions – both within their community and in creating great quality tea. That’s why the names of each tea packer are visible on every box of Bigelow Tea. It’s their personal seal of quality and our way to show off the great work our people do every day.

So, tell us, how are you giving back to your community? Don’t forget to tag #TeaProudly because that is what we are, proud to make your tea!

This Is Why Bigelow Tea Is A Member Of The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP)

Have you ever thought about the tea leaves in your bag of Bigelow Tea? Not simply the delicious flavor they offer, but the story behind them? Where they come from? Who sourced them? If not, that’s okay. But, at Bigelow Tea, this is something that’s very important to us. It’s one of the reasons why we’re a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), an organization that works with tea growers to establish methods for responsible conservation of the world’s tea fields, and to improve the lives of the beautiful people who work them. In fact, Bigelow Tea was the sixth North American tea company to join the group. Consider it just one of the ways the company is showing its commitment to the tea growers and producers, and, well, sustainability.

As a family-owned company for three generations, Bigelow Tea’s culture has always been guided by the simple principle of doing the right thing. Seems simple, right? But it can take hard work with all the moving parts that go into a company. Sustainability and fair business practices are important in every aspect of our business, not only here at home but
around the world. That’s why we’re proud to be part of ETP, and why we think it’s extra critical for the industry to work collaboratively to make the tea industry truly sustainable.
And, hey, here is a really awesome way where the ETP aims to end poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change by 2030.

  • The ETP, in partnership with UNICEF and with the support of the Indian tea industry, is working across more than 100 tea estates to equip more than 25,000 girls with the necessary knowledge and skills that will help them secure a better future and reduce their vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation including trafficking and unsafe migration.

Pretty incredible stuff, right? So the next time you brew some Bigelow, you’re not just making tea – you’re making a big difference through initiatives around the globe. That’s a cup you can feel super good about, and one worth sharing with the world. We always want you to #TeaProudly, after all!

Thank You To All Of Our Troops Who Have Served Our Country!

Bigelow Tea Owned Charleston Tea Plantation, A Tea Journey Past and Present

Bigelow Tea has been an American classic since 1945 and while we all know and love the company’s tasty tea, Bigelow has another gem to celebrate, the Bigelow owned Charleston Tea Plantation which is America’s largest working tea garden located on the historic Wadmalaw Island. This South Carolina destination has ideal climate for growing the Camellia Sinesis (tea!) plant. Bigelow purchased the plantation in 2003 and has created a literal tea oasis; besides producing American Classic Tea, the plantation is also a beautiful setting for weddingseducational tours, and even a variety of music festivals.

NPR shared what life is like on the Charleston Tea Plantation in an interview with America’s only fulltime tea taster, William Barclay Hall. Hall gives fascinating insight into growing tea the old-fashioned way:

  • The Charleston Tea Plantation grows cuttings in a nursery for four years instead of planting seeds. These bushes are, unbelievably, descendants of the same plants that were first brought to region in the 1700s.
  • Talk about a taste for tea — Hall is a third generation tea taster (his father and grandfather held the roles before him) who was trained in London. During his training, he tasted as many as 800 teas a day, five days a week!
  • Tea is one of the only commodities in the world bought and sold based on taste, according to Hall. Because tea is harvested on average every 15 days, the taste is always changing based on everything from the temperature, to the amount of rain, to the time of year.
  • Pests stay away from tea! The caffeine and tannins in tea repel insects, so the Charleston Tea plantation doesn’t need to use any pesticide, herbicides or fungicides.
  • Tea leaves are placed on “withering box” screens for 18 hours, and then macerated in a grinder. Hall then steeps, tastes and blends every single batch until he thinks it tastes absolutely right.

Now you know: a little piece of tea history continues on in the modern world, all thanks to Bigelow!

How To Make An Amazing Outdoor Garden (You Can Use Tea!)

Yes!!! April is National Garden Month so that means it’s time to get ready to enjoy all those gorgeous colors that will bloom soon (if some haven’t already)! Plus, it’s that time of year to take on an outdoorsy project – like making your own garden of course!

Bigelow Tea has a lot of experience doing just this- our community garden 

grows fresh ‘n’ delicious goodies such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and basil. We even donate our bounty to local nonprofit organizations where they help feed those who may be less fortunate.

And of course, Bigelow Tea has also cultivated a rather, um, large garden—the Charleston Tea Plantation! (See the pic of all the rows of beautiful tea above!)

On a smaller scale, whether you are interested in growing your own garden so you can feed your family or help give to others- here’s a super idea: You can start a garden using tea bags! How cool is that? Try some of these tips from a tea fan:

  1. Begin with a plate, platter or disposable serving tray lined with unbleached paper towels.
  2. Place moistened tea bags, which have been prepared normally using boiling water, on the tray.
  3. Using a small blade/knife or your fingers, make a small slit in the tea bags (large enough to plant your seeds).
  4. Take 2-3 seeds and push them into the slit that you made in the tea bag so that the seeds are slightly covered by the tea leaves.  Keep in mind that because the tea leaves are moist, some of the contents of the tea bag will get on your fingers- don’t worry, just make sure that the seed is in place.Put your tea bag garden in a sunny area and wait for your seeds to sprout.  Be sure to keep the paper towels moistened1 Depending on sun exposure, temperature and watering, seeds should begin to sprout in 10-15 days. When watering, pour water onto the paper towels, not directly onto the tea bags.
  5. Once you have a small sprout, take the whole tea bag and plant it in either a raised bed or container.  The tea bag will become fantastic compost for the garden!

Another simple way to get gardening is to start with herbs. It’s an easy way to get going with that farm to table concept!

So how does your garden grow? Share your green thumb tips with us! Be sure to tag #TeaProudly so we can use some tips for our own gardens!

5 Bigelow Tea Sustainability Efforts That Celebrate Earth Month … All Year Long

Earth Month is all of April so let’s celebrate!

Anyone and everyone can do something good for the Earth this month (and, well, all year round!), whether it’s big or small. And that includes Bigelow Tea– it’s about practicing business philosophies that help, not harm. In fact, it’s in our mission statement: “Do the right thing and good things will follow.”

So why do the right thing for the planet? As third generation president and CEO Cindi Bigelow says, “Being responsible is not something my family does because we can do good things, but because we strongly believe that we should and need to do good things, whether it’s for the community, for our employees, or for the environment.”

Need some inspiration for ways to be earthier this month? Read on for some of Bigelow Tea’s famous “SustainabiliTea” efforts and get motivated!

  1. Supporting renewable energy and reducing emissions, our planet stays in good shape for future generations.  By installing 880 solar panels at our Connecticut headquarters, our yearly effort produces about 200,000 kWh which is enough energy to power 527 homes for an entire year, using nothing but the power of the sun.
  1. We’ve been reducing our energy use for years! This has led to a nearly 10 million kWh reduction where energy has been reduced by over 2.5 million kWh in just our Fairfield plant alone through energy efficiency measures. That’s the equivalent of planting 41 million trees. How have we done this? One way is by replacing light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs in offices in all our facilities. So simple, yet so effective – anyone can change their light bulbs to make a difference!
  1. Bigelow Tea has achieved “Zero Waste to Landfill” status. What that means is we’re following the guidelines of the Zero Waste Alliance, which says that a company can claim being a zero waste to landfill facility if no more than 10 per cent of their waste ends up in a landfill.
  1. Bigelow Tea, with the goal of preserving land, purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation in 2003 to save 127 acres of land from real estate development. Today, the plantation has hosted well over 100,000 visitors.
  1. We try to act on the bees’ behalf! Bigelow’s Green Team has planted flowers on our corporate property along an urban train track fence to help provide bees with a better natural habitat.

Feeling inspired now? We hope so!  And hey if you need more encouragement, check out these Bigelow Tea activities planned for each day of Earth Week (April 17-22):

  • Recycling drives for electronics, towels for local animal shelters and business clothing (women’s and men’s) to benefit  Dress for Success
  • Educational exhibits on container gardening, lighting , recycling and composting
  • Lunch and learn with  the Back Yard Bee Keepers Association
  • Plant tours of our facility to showcase our sustainability efforts and our solar panels
  • Local foods will be served in the cafeteria
  • Raffle prizes – packets of seeds, tee shirts, plants  and more

So how will you observe Earth Month? Let us know by sharing anywhere online and tag with #TeaProudly!