8th
Feb
2013

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 been reached.


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 world.


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.

by Kafevend

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