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Who Invented The First Tea Bag?

(midnight commander@Flickr)

It’s pretty much a routine with me most mornings – a cup of tea and toast. The easiest way to brew a cup of tea is to pour hot water over a tea bag in a tea cup. My grandmother used loose tea leaves using a tea infuser, sometimes known as a tea ball. It worked on the same principle as a tea bag but you’d put the loose tea in the infuser and steep it the same way.

It was in the early 1900’s that Thomas Sullivan of New York City changed the way people brew tea. His coffee and tea shop shipped tea leaves all around the world and included in each large shipment of tea were small sample tins so that tea traders could try the tea. Sullivan didn’t like the high cost of buying the tins for his samples so he switched to hand-sewn silk bags instead.

When many of Sullivan’s customers simply dropped the bags into hot water to try the tea the idea came to him to package it that way in the first place. But instead of silk he experimented with cheesecloth, gauze and different types of paper. The type of paper used for coffee filters is what he settled on.

Salada Tea Company bought the patent in 1930.


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