Posted in Kafevend Blog
Tea drinking has been around
for a long time, yet the use of a device to contain loose tea is a
relatively modern one. The precursor to tea bags were 'tea eggs'-
hollow, perforated metal chambers that held loose tea and were placed
into a drink to allow the tea to infuse. Attached were metal handles
or chains, allowing them to be removed once the desired strength had
With patents for tea
bag-like devices showing up in 1903 and 1904, the tea bag as we know
it today is attributed to a New York tea merchant by the name of
Thomas Sullivan. As the story goes, the use of a bag to hold tea
whilst it infused was somewhat of an accident. Handing out samples
of tea in small silk bags, which the tea was supposed to be removed
from, some of his customers assumed that the bag containing the tea
was meant to be submersed, similar to the tea eggs mentioned earlier.
After responses from his customers about their use of the tea bag,
and their mentioning that the silk made for too fine a mesh, he
created the first purpose built tea bag out of gauze, later paper.
Sullivan went on to sell his new fangled tea bags throughout the
In Britain, fabled for its
enjoyment of the brew, the tea bag was not well received at first.
Introduced by Tetley in the 1950's and quickly adopted by other
companies, it only accounted for around three percent of the market
in the early 60's. However, this number has steadily increased over
the years, and tea bags now, astonishingly, make up over ninety
percent of the market.