Despite general assumptions that drinking tea from a tea bag would be more prominent in the UK, it was in America, that tea bags were first developed. It was around 1908 when Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, started to send samples of tea to his customers in small silken bags. Some assumed that these were supposed to be used in the same way as the metal infusers, by putting the entire bag into the pot, rather than emptying out the contents. And lo and behold the tea bag was born.
Soon the silken fabric was adjusted to a more gauzy fabric and people were getting ready made tea gags. During the 1920s these were developed for commercial production, and the bags grew in popularity in the USA. Made first of all from gauze and later from paper, they came in two sizes, a larger bag for the pot, a smaller one for the cup. The features that we still recognize today were already in place – a string that hung over the side so the bag could be removed easily, with a decorated tag on the end. And there you have it, the way tea bags were born.
To think, that a mistake is why tons of people drink tea today. People learned from the ease and were able to branch out in tea drinking. It is just really interesting to know. So whether you use a tea bag every once in a while or just drink your tea loose – we can at least thank Thomas Sullivan, even if his original tea bag design was a little flawed.