History of Your Tea Bag

While you might be under the impression that the all-pervading tea bag is a rather contemporary phenomenon, the fact remains that the tea bag came to the market more than a century back. There are some debates as to who popularized the concept of tea bags. One of the legends is that the renowned American importer of tea Thomas Sullivan sent out samples of his tea in pouches made of silk not aware that people would directly dip it into hot water to prepare tea.


Origin of tea


However, a few years prior to the above episode, Mary Molaren and Roberta C. Lawson from Milwaukee had filed for a patent for an interesting ‘tea leaf holder’ that closely resembles the tea bags that we use today. They had invented it so that people could use only the amount of tea that was required. The idea was to minimize the wastage of tea.


If we were to go through the patent application, we would find that they had mentioned that the bag wouldn’t be so loose so that the tea leaves entered the mouth of the drinker. The bag also wouldn’t be so tight so that water can’t pass through it. The included mechanism included a stitched mesh fabric that Sullivan later used by replacing silk.


Whoever might have invented it, the fact remains that the innovation solved a couple of problems. One, it was great for a single serving and secondly the cleanup was now a hell lot easier.


The glorious history


It is interesting to note that the renowned tea manufacturer Lipton celebrated its 125th anniversary last summer. Although the venture by Thomas Lipton didn’t use tea bags for the first time, but the company claims credit for first printing out the instructions for brewing on the tags. Although the brand has made a few changes over the past few years, the basic tea bag manufactured by the company more or less remains the same. The amount of black tea inside the teabags has remained the same since 1952.


In the above context, it is pertinent to remember that many companies have tried to modify the process of tea-steeping, an example could be Keurig that produced tea pods meant for the K-Cup machines, thereby reducing the wait time.


While several companies have tried a lot of innovative methods for using tea bags, the concept hardly needs any modification. All it needs is a cup of boiling water and a wait span of five minutes meant for steeping.


Tea bags are a global phenomenon. From New York to New Delhi, people seem to have developed a strange penchant for the tea bag. It can safely be said that tea bags are here to stay and your grand children will also be sipping a cup of tea made from a tea bag.