Evolution of the Tea Bag

Tea bags have been around since the early 1900s. Back then they were hand sewn from silk muslin.  Thomas Sullivan, a New York coffee and tea merchant, is credited with being the first person to market his tea in bags.

Bangkok Green
Bangkok Green

It wasn’t long before machines were invented to manufacture the tea bags.  Many other innovations followed and tea bags were made in different shapes and materials.  For example, there was the four-sided flo-thru bag, the round perforated bag and more recently, the popular pyramidal bag.  Most are made from paper fibre these days.

Tea bags are often looked upon by many tea aficionados as being inferior to loose tea.  This is probably because many contain fannings, which is the smallest leaf size next to dust.  However, they do have the advantage of brewing quickly and producing a strong brew.  I must admit that several of my favorite brands of English tea bags contain fannings and I enjoy using them to brew a robust morning cuppa with milk.


There are a lot of companies today producing quality tea bags containing the highest grades of loose tea.  Harney & Sons carries some of my favorite loose tea in bags, such as Bangkok Green and others.  Some use silken, pyramid-shaped bags that leave lots of room for the tea to expand as the leaves unfurl.  They also allow you see the tea leaves inside.

The convenience and portability of tea in bags is evident in the sale of products like the “t-sac” which makes it possible to make your own tea bags with your favorite loose teas.  This provides an easy way for us to enjoy a much larger variety of tea  than what is available in prepackaged bags.  The “t-sac” is also handy when your usual loose tea choices are not available in bags.

Whatever your opinion of tea bags, they certainly have come a long way.

Don’t forget to check out the parTEA Lady’s blog, Tea and Talk!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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