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Archives for the ‘Tea History’ Category

Bigelow Tea Looks At Evidence That Tea Is More Than 2000 Years Old

bigelow tea historyIt turns out that “one of the world’s oldest beverages” is even older than previously thought. New analysis of plant remains found in ancient tombs confirms that they are, in fact, from tea plants. Bigelow Tea loves a good mystery and learning that the key to solving this one was the presence of theanine, an amino acid found only in tea and responsible for its relaxing properties.

According to an NPR report, the oldest known reference to tea was in a document from 59 B.C., though scholars were unsure of its accuracy. Experts now have what they believe is physical evidence of tea’s existence in two tombs that are 2,100 years old, about 100 years before the document in question. Leaf buds found in these tombs resemble the finest tea. To prove their hunch, researchers compared the chemistry of the buds to modern tea samples. The presence of caffeine was helpful, but not conclusive, evidence. A few other plants also contain caffeine. Finding theanine was “the clincher.”

The investigation also supported the belief that tea has long been highly prized and sought after, as one of the tombs –in western China – belonged to an emperor! What remains unclear is exactly how this ancient tea was enjoyed. Other evidence suggests that before modern brewing techniques, cultural practices involved mixing barley and other plants with tea for medicinal purposes.

However it was used, tea clearly has a long and distinguished history that tea lovers all over the world can appreciate. As a third-generation family-owned tea company founded 70 years ago, Bigelow Tea is proud to be a part of this tradition!

Learn Why Bigelow Tea Uses Tea From Sri Lanka

bigelow tea sri lanka cindi bigelow

High in the mountains of Sri Lanka grow acres of gorgeous tea plants renowned for yielding a light, bright brew prized as “the champagne of teas.” Bigelow Tea founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow fell in love with tea from the region and initiated a partnership that has endured for 67 years! Third-generation President and CEO Cindi Bigelow was thrilled to visit this tiny island country in South Asia to meet the folks who expertly hand-pick tea leaves used in Bigelow’s black teas.

For a rare peek inside the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, check out Cindi’s Sri Lanka journal and videos. And here are a few more interesting facts highlighting why Bigelow Tea embraces Sri Lankan tea producers as part of its extended global family:

  • The British planted the first camellia sinensis (tea) plant in Sri Lanka in the 1800s following a blight that had wiped out the coffee crop, sparking new traditions built around tea farming.

bigelow tea english breakfast black tea

  • Today, tea cultivation is a $1.5 billion industry in Sri Lanka employing more than 1 million people who produce the world’s most expensive tea.
  • Before 1972, while under British colonization, the island was known as “Ceylon.” Hence tea from Sri Lanka is still called Ceylon tea.
  • Every tea estate in Sri Lanka with which Bigelow Tea does business is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which promotes fair treatment of workers and sustainable farming practices.
  • With high elevations that can exceed 6,000 feet, Sri Lankan tea gardens boast extremely favorable soil and weather conditions for growing delicate tea plants.
  • Each Sri Lankan estate prides itself on producing signature teas —much the same way vintners age wines for different tastes.

Enjoy the delicious results in your mug of Bigelow black tea! @Daniela441 tweeted his love for English Teatime. What’s your favorite Bigelow black tea blend?

 

Add Some Zing To The Table With Bigelow Tea’s Signature Spice Cake

bigelow tea recipe

Looking to bring a bit of spice to your baking repertoire? Look no further than one of Bigelow Tea’s most popular recipes: “Constant Comment”® Spice Cake. Considered to be the “signature cake” using Bigelow Tea’s flagship blend, this spice cake has been teasing taste buds for years—ever since the era when “Constant Comment”® was first introduced.

There’s a lot of history behind this flavor (and this recipe). In 1945, founder Ruth Bigelow’s revolutionary spirit created the very first Bigelow Tea, which generated constant comment among those who sampled it. She named it “Constant Comment”® of course! In doing so, she challenged well-known tea brands and helped establish specialty tea in America. Seventy years later, under the third generation of family leadership, Bigelow Tea produces 1.7 billion tea bags annually in more than 130 varieties of blackgreen and herbal teas in may flavors and varieties. Each tea bag is individually overwrapped in signature foil pouches that protect the tea from air, moisture and surrounding aromas, keeping all the flavor and freshness in until you’re ready to enjoy!

This expert blending and zealous protection of flavor not only makes for a fantastic tea, it also makes a spectacular ingredient for the “Constant Comment”® Spice Cake. It’s a sweetly-spiced dessert as timeless as the tea with which it’s made. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredientsbigelow tea constant comment

  • ½ cup milk
  • Bigelow Constant Comment® Tea Bags
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-⅔ cups flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Confectioners sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9″” round cake pan. Combine milk and tea bags in a small saucepan. Heat over medium/low heat until bubbles form around the edge, stirring occasionally. (DO NOT BOIL.) Remove from heat and let cool (15-20 minutes); remove tea bags squeezing out liquid. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and whisk to blend. Add the cooled milk; continue to whisk until thoroughly combined. Add flour and baking powder; mix until a smooth batter forms. Pour batter into pan. Bake approximately 35 minutes, or until center of cake springs back when touched. Cool on wire rack before removing from pan. Let cool completely before serving. Dust top with confectioners sugar.

 

On Presidents’ Day, Bigelow Tea Hails U.S. Presidential Tea Drinkers

bigelow tea american breakfastOn Presidents’ Day, Bigelow Tea gives a hail to the chiefs known for drinking tea. Here are some Commanders In Chief historically linked to the beverage.  At Mount Vernon, George Washington stocked up on teas popular during his time, and imported tea chests, silver teaspoons and even a silver-plated tea urn.

o  Letters between John and Abigail Adams mention tea. One from July 1774 describes a hostess only serving coffee since tea (during the American Revolution) was considered unpatriotic.

o  Thomas Jefferson bought different teas for Monticello, but would drink a particular type like Imperial.

o  Lyndon Johnson had four buttons installed in the Oval Office to order his favorite beverages—including tea—on demand!

o  For breakfast, Gerald Ford had tea with lemon alongside OJ, melon, and English muffins.

o  Barack Obama has been spotted drinking tea as well.

o  Let’s not forget the First Ladies! From Dolley Madison to Michelle Obama, they’ve served tea to White House guests.

This year, on Presidents’ Day, Bigelow Tea’s caffeinated American Breakfast teas are a great fit for the day off! Facebook fan Lydia Kammerer starts the morning with “large cup” every day! Sip and think about the presidents who have sipped as well.

 

Bigelow Tea Shares Favorite Family Stories On Ruth Campbell Bigelow’s Birthday

 

ruth bigelow bigelow tea

 

Today, Bigelow Tea celebrates the 120th anniversary of the birth of founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow, and also celebrates her remarkable achievements as a visionary American entrepreneur.  Although Ruth passed away in 1966, the little company she started in her kitchen in 1945 continues to thrive in its third generation of family ownership. “Constant Comment“®, the company’s first tea variety, remains a best seller, even as offerings have expanded to include more than 130 tea flavors. Wow!

The entire Bigelow Tea extended family, which celebrated the company’s 70th anniversary in 2015, is proud to honor Ruth’s legacy by producing the highest-quality teasserving the community and operating as good environmental and corporate citizens. Here are a few favorite Bigelow family stories that exemplify Ruth’s signature can-do spirit:

  • Inspired by a Colonial recipe, Ruth experimented in her kitchen until she emerged with a blend of black tea, orange rind and sweet spices that she was convinced would be a winner. Indeed, it was the source of “constant comment”among her friends, and Bigelow Tea was born.
  • Ruth had an “aha” moment in those tough early days when a shop keeper said that he had opened a container of “Constant Comment”®to allow customers to smell the tea’s wonderful aroma. “One whiff and they’re sold!” he said. So Ruth made sure that every case of tea came with an extra whiffing jar that retailers could keep next to the cash register.
  • Soon after the company moved from New York to Connecticut in 1955, Bigelow Tea almost met a watery end when back-to-back hurricanes flooded the new building. But once again, Ruth and David rallied and rebuilt!bigelow tea constant comment

Stories like these are wonderful reminders of how far Bigelow Tea has come and the traditions that keep it going. Ruth would love knowing that a contemporary of hers, Gladys Hooper, wished for cake and a cup of tea when she recently celebrated her 113th birthday. Tea is truly timeless!

Bigelow Tea Celebrates Lewis Carroll’s Birthday And His Teatime Inspirations!

Today Bigelow Tea celebrates the birthday of literary legend Lewis Carroll and the teatime mischief made famous in his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a beloved tale that continues to delight readers around the world 150 years after its publication. Now that’s a reason for a tea party!bigelow tea peppermint tea time mug

Born January 27, 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was an accomplished but relatively obscure instructor at Oxford University when he wrote the story about Alice, using the pen name Lewis Carroll. The book has been translated and distributed to more than 80 countries, and Carroll is one of the most quoted authors in the English language.

Key to the author’s enduring appeal is his association with one of the world’s most popular beverages: tea! While many are familiar with the Mad Hatter’s tea party and several Alice movies, they may not know about the real-life tea inspirations for this particular scene and the book itself.  Here are a few fun facts shared by NPR:

 

bigelow tea mad tea party

  • The story evolved from an outing on a “golden afternoon” in 1862, when Charles and a colleague took the three daughters of his college dean (one of whom was named Alice) on a boating expedition on the river Isis. The group stopped for tea along the way, and Charles entertained the girls with a story of how an adventurous girl pops down a large rabbit hole, “never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
  • The “golden afternoon” fell on the Fourth of July, a detail Carroll worked into the published story.
  • The Victorian ceremony of high tea also figures prominently. Carroll pokes fun at the pretensions of the day with memorable images of rudeness at the Mad Hatter’s tea party:  Alice sitting down uninvited, elbows on the table, the March Hare offering Alice wine where there is no wine, and the Hatter making personal remarks such as, “Your hair wants cutting.”

It’s all in good fun, and that’s just what Bigelow Tea believes tea time should be, even when you bring out the fine china and scones!

Second image via Wikipedia

How The World Looked In 1945 When Bigelow Tea Began

bigelow tea history tin
In 1945, World War II ended, the Yalta Agreement was signed and Bigelow Tea was born! As Bigelow has been celebrating 70 years as America’s family tea blenders, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the company’s auspicious beginning and the many historical milestones ushered in during the same year. Here’s a snapshot of events and statistics from 1945, when Ruth Campbell Bigelow adapted a Colonial recipe to create “Constant Comment®”:

  • The first German war crimes trial began in Nuremburg.
  • Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence from France.
  • The average American salary was $2,400.
  • The cost of a gallon of gas was 15 cents.
  • Ruth and her husband, David Bigelow, were making a living blending and packaging seasonings that they sold in New York City. They wanted to expand their product offerings, and Ruth’s hunch that the American market was ready for a more flavorful tea than the bland brew available at the time proved correct.bigelow tea ruth bigelow
  • A July 1945 article in the New York Herald Tribunereported the following about “Constant Comment,”®according to a recent account in Connecticut Explored magazine:  “One of
    Mrs. Bigelow’s Park Avenue friends was giving an afternoon party, and it was suggested she try the new blend. Not a word was said to the guest regarding its novelty, yet everyone spoke of the tea’s aroma, its flavor—there was ‘constant comment.’ A good name, why not? Labels were made and the tea was hurried to the stores where it is selling at around 75 cents for the two-and-one-quarter ounce jar. Expensive? But here’s a tea so flavorful that three-quarters of a teaspoon make six bracing cups of aromatic spiciness.”

Today, “Constant Comment”® remains one of Bigelow Tea’s best-loved flavors in a line that has expanded to include more than 120 varieties. Just ask Instagrammer @Scot30, who says “Constant Comment”® is his all-time favorite tea. Enjoy the aroma, taste and nostalgia in every cup of Bigelow Tea!

 

Bigelow Tea Looks At How Early American Quests For Chinese Tea Minted Millionaires

bigelow tea history

 

Early Americans who dumped British tea in 1773 later consoled themselves with coffee and newfound freedom, but they never lost their taste for tea! And so began the quest for tea in China and an epic story of economic growth and wealth in the United States, as told by NPRBigelow Tea takes a moment to share some fascinating facts from this tea tale:

  • The first American trade ship to set sail for China left from New York in 1784. The Empress of China was laden with 242 casks of ginseng to trade with the Chinese.
  • The first cargo of tea brought back to America sold for a 25 percent profit, prompting new merchants to jump into the tea trade.
  • Over the next decade, tea consumption in the United States reached 3 million pounds annually!
  • Tea trading fostered the first American millionaires: John Jacob Astor, Thomas Handasyd Perkins and Stephen Girard.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ancestors traded with Houqua, a Chinese multimillionaire and one of the richest men in the world at that time. Descendants of both families reportedly kept in touch well into the 20th century.
  • Demand for tea spurred growth in shipbuilding (speedy new clipper ships came in handy!) and led to new construction of canals, railroads and factories.
  • Soon enough, there was demand for tea sets, porcelain ware and punch bowls from China.
  • George and Martha Washington displayed an impressive collection of fine chinaware.

Interestingly enough, tea is a big part of our American history which we appreciate and honor as a third generation family owned business creating tea in the United States!  Have you had your cup today?

Unique Ways to Repurpose Your Bigelow Tea

bigelow tea recipes

Never doubt the power of a cup of Bigelow Tea. Not only is it a flavorful and invigorating beverage, it can tenderize your meat, stain your furniture, and clean your glass surfaces! Who knew?

In a recent article from POPSUGAR, tea drinkers were given 11 creative ways to repurpose tea. Here are just a few:

*Tenderize meat: Tannins in tea can soften meat while adding a flavorful punch. Marinate meat with a black or green tea and allow it to soak up the flavor. Never fear, vegetarians! You can find a great recipe for Tea Marinated Grilled Tofu using Green Tea with Pomegranate tea bags on the Bigelow Tea website.

*Stain furniture: For your next DIY project, try your hand at a rustic stain made with brewed black tea.

*Clean glass surfaces: Tannins in tea also make great cleaners. Grease residue getting you down? Leave your dish in hot water with tea bags overnight and voilà!

And while you may want to avoid adding tea bags to the washing machine (hey, sometimes, it’s an accident — as @Jac0bSummerz will tell you!), you can add some brew to your mopping routine. According to the article, black tea can naturally restore your floor’s color, sheen, and fill in tiny scratches.

So grab a cup of your favorite Bigelow Tea blend, enjoy your cup … and keep the tea bag!

Bigelow Tea Looks Back At The History Of Caffeine

bigelow tea american breakfast

 

Busy lives today mean work, family, chores and fun … but 1,000 years ago people who lived in North America were busy doing other things like hunting and gathering! Guess what? They needed a little caffeine jolt just like the people of today! Bigelow Tea is sharing an eye-opening article from NPR regarding new research that shows that caffeine has been a part of North American history for at least a millennium!

Recent studies suggest that 1,000 years ago Native Americans in the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest brewed caffeinated drinks made from cacao, and the leaves and twigs of yaupon holly, a caffeinated plant. It sounds a lot like they were making early cups of tea, doesn’t it?

According to the article, “Patricia Crown, a professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, led a team that analyzed 177 pottery samples from 18 sites in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Chihuahua, Mexico. (During the analysis, scientists were not allowed to bring any caffeinated beverages into the lab, for fear of contamination). They found caffeine residue on pieces of jars, pitchers and mugs in 40 samples from 12 sites and conclude[d] that the groups ‘likely consumed stimulant drinks in communal, ritual gatherings.’” Early tea parties, perhaps?

bigelow tea american breakfast extra caffeine

When it comes to caffeine, Bigelow Tea understands the energizing benefits that make it such an important staple in the lives of many. That’s why there’s now Bigelow Tea American Breakfast tea! With 50% more caffeine than your average cup of tea, this stimulating blend is crafted with the finest ingredients that jumpstart your day without the crash. Tea gets help from Theanine, a naturally occurring compound unique to tea that—when combined with caffeine—provides a sustained energy boost along with a feeling of relaxation. Enjoy three different flavors: American Breakfast Black Tea; American Breakfast Black Tea and Lemon; and American Breakfast Black Tea and Honey.

Now that we know that caffeine has been fueling people for at least 1,000 years, it makes perfect sense that drinking tea is a daily ritual for many—like @ANewDawnnBlog, who kick-starts each day with a cup! So brew yourself some tea … and you’ll be in good company, enjoying a tradition that has lasted over a millennium!