Bigelow Tea Company
|Founder(s)||Ruth Campbell Bigelow|
|Headquarters||Fairfield, Connecticut, USA|
David C. Bigelow, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO
Cynthia Bigelow, President
|Products||Teas & tisanes|
R.C. Bigelow, Inc, better known as the Bigelow Tea Company, is an American tea company based in Fairfield, Connecticut. The company was founded by Ruth C. Bigelow in the late 1940s, based on a recipe she marketed as "Constant Comment" tea. Bigelow is still a 100% family-owned business that markets over 50 varieties of tea, including black and green, as well as tisanes, all of which are still blended in Fairfield. They also own America's only tea plantation, in Charleston, South Carolina. Although still a privately held company, in 2009 their annual sales were reported to be about $90 million and they have 350 employees.
In 1945, New York Times food writer Jane Holt wrote about the newly introduced tea, praising it for "economy of use:"
|“||Ruth Campbell Bigelow and Bertha West Nealey [are] both interior decorators whose enthusiasm for tea has led them to blend their own... an unusual and delicious brew called Constant Comment, which has just been introduced in city stores.... Unlike the ordinary sorts, it is so concentrated that a little goes a long way. For example, in preparing it, a scant half-teaspoon is recommended for three cups.... Several other varieties are in the process of experimentation in the laboratory.... The price ranges from 67 to 75 cents a [two-and-a-half-ounce] jar.||”|
A 1945 article by Clementine Paddleford tells this story about the origin of the name:
|“||The tea was ready for market, but no name seemed to suit. Then it happened this way: 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 guests 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.||”|
Pop Culture References
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Ramona Flowers lists "Constant Comment" among her tea collection.
- Carrie's mother drinks it in the Stephen King novel.
- In The Miseducation of Cameron Post, "Constant Comment" is Coley's favorite tea.
Leonard Cohen refers to Constant Comment tea in his 1966 song "Suzanne" in the line, "And she feeds you tea and oranges/That come all the way from China." The song began as a poem in 1966, was recorded as a song in 1966 by Judy Collins, and in 1967 by Cohen himself. It refers to a platonic relationship that Cohen had with Suzanne Verdal, the girlfriend of the sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, and visits that Cohen would make to her Montreal apartment to drink Constant Comment tea and take walks by the water.
- Charleston Tea Plantation
- Earl Grey tea, the English tea blend with a bitter citrus flavor, but no spices
- "Hoovers article on R.C. Bigelow, Inc.". Accessed in 2010. It lists David Bigelow and Eunice Bigelow as Co-Chairmen and Co-CEO's, and Cynthia Bigelow as President.
- Bigelow Constant Comment tea description
- Holt, Jane (1945), "News of Food: New Tea Mixture Appears in the Market; Economy of Use a High Recommendation" The New York Times, May 21, 1945, p. 16
- Clementine Paddleford (July, 1945). "Food Flashes". Gourmet Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-01.