How did you make your tea? Was it loose-leaf or did you steep it with a tea bag? This week’s accidental invention is in fact, the tea bag!
Though tea’s rooted origins are from China and it has been around for millennia, Thomas Sullivan is credited with the popularisation of the tea bag! He was a tea merchant in New York in 1908 and would send samples of his teas to his customers in packed cans. He one day decided it would be much more practical to send the samples in little bags. He began sending his samples in small, handmade silk bags.
His customers found it much easier to brew their tea with these bags as they would just put the silk bag in hot water. Sullivan began receiving more orders, but for the tea bags rather than the tea itself! With feedback from his customers, Sullivan realized that silk was not ideal and switched to gauze tea bags.
Since they were so easy to use, they gained popularity nationwide and were being commercially produced after World War I. After World War II, tea bags became popular on a global scale.
A few years before Sullivan’s happy accidental “invention” however, Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren patented a “tea leaf holder” which had a very similar function to Sullivan’s tea bag but was actually constructed of mesh fabric.
No matter who the actual inventor was, they have made our lives so much easier because brewing a cup of tea is as easy as ever!
There are plenTEA more fun and interesting blog posts to come so stay tuned!
- Jenna Dhanani