Dickinson College Dining Services has removed a popular tea flavor following concerns raised over the name of the variety. Named “Plantation Mint,” possible racial connotations led to the product’s removal from dining services locations.
In an email, Director of Dining Services Errol Huffman explained that concerns over the name of tea were raised over the summer by Student Senate Director of Inclusivity Kaliph Brown ’20. He explained that he “connected [Brown] with president of Bigelow Teas, Cindi Bigelow so they could discuss the issue.” Huffman added that dining services “opted not to carry this variety out of sensitivity” regarding the possible connotation.
In an email, Daniel Gomes, a customer service manager of the Bigelow Tea confirmed that Brown had indeed spoken to Bigelow, explaining “Cindi [Bigelow] had a lovely conversation with Kaliph Brown [‘20], […] they talked about the fact how we recognize the impact this name has on people based on our country’s history.”
Brown explained that, following a conversation with Bigelow, the company has recognized the issue, and is “working towards changing the name [of the variety].”
Gomes noted that the company is aware of the concerns raised of the name of the tea variety, saying “we are having this conversation here at Bigelow” and that the company is “actively working to find a thoughtful solution to honor Mrs. Bigelow’s love for this tea while remaining sensitive to how the name is perceived.”
Gomes and Brown both noted that “Plantation Mint” was a tea named by the current CEO’s mother, which has been a factor in delaying the change of name. The delay is “because of sentimental concerns between [Bigelow] and her mother,” explained Brown.
“As shared in their conversation, this was the one tea Eunice Bigelow both created and named over 50 years ago,” Gomes added. He continued that the name was influenced “based on her [Eunice Bigelow’s] love for the tea gardens around the world, which are still called plantations.” However, Gomes added that that sentiment “does not take away from how others feel about the name.”
“We are confident we will do this in the very near future.” Gomes said. Brown added that, according to Bigelow, a “new name [for the variety] should be in rotation by fall of next year.”