Two billion tea bags are filled each year from one of the country's most-recognized tea brands, and half of those bags are made in Louisville.

The first thing people notice when they walk in to the Bigelow Tea plant off of Blankenbaker Parkway is the smell. The scent of tea is overpowering, and the machines are loud as they pack 400 tea bags each minute.  

It’s fast paced as packers like Crystal Lewis monitor the machines for quality control with their ear plugs in their ears and hair nets on their heads.

“I make sure the tea bags come out in the best quality that they can, and then they go into a box that is printed with my name and the day code,” said Lewis, one of 123 employees at the plant.

It’s easy to tell the boxes of tea Lewis packed, because her name is actually on the box. It gives her a sense of pride in her work.

“I would go to Kroger and Walmart and look through the Bigelow Tea boxes just to find my name and take a picture,” she said.

That’s something that's important to third generation President and CEO, Cindi Bigelow.

Bigelow Tea “was actually started by my grandmother about 75 years ago, which is fun," Bigelow said. "It was started by a woman, and it was during the depression."

Over the years, Bigelow Tea has grown from a one-woman operation. There are other locations in Fairfield Connecticut, Boise, Idaho, and a tea plantation in South Carolina.

“Sales are strong, thank God, thank God," Bigelow said. "So we are doing really well."

Picking a favorite flavor of Bigelow Tea is “like having 150 children and picking which one is my favorite,” she said.

In addition to the $20 million of equipment the company updated in the last five years, Bigelow said the company it will continue to invest in Louisville because of its location and what Bigelow calls ‘quality employees.”

“Louisville is very well located, where it is in terms of a distribution percentage,” Bigelow said.

The company has been located on Constant Comment Drive in Louisville for 25 years. 

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