The story of the first production of teabags starts in June 1908.
A New York merchant, John Sullivan, sent out tea samples in silk muslin sachets to his retailers. He was trying to save money and avoid sending larger amounts of loose leaf tea.
But he didn't include instructions to open the sachet and remove the tea before putting the tea directly into hot water.
An inexpensive gauze was quickly introduced and by 1930, a sealed paper fiber bag was being used.
The paper basically served as an inexpensive, disposable infuser. The Americans loved the idea and kept buying them.
Patents had existed for small tea pouches earlier, but Sullivan started successful production of the teabag.
Some people complained of lost flavor or low quality tea dust, but others promoted the convenience.
As the 20th century began to speed up, convenience won.
The British waited a few generations to accept the teabag, but Tetley Tea currently sells over 200 million teabags a week using perforated paper. Teabags are now available around the world.
Teabags come in square, round, pyramid, and flow-through shapes to enhance extraction, and with whole leaf tea for better flavor. You can even buy re-useable teabags.
While teabags will never replace the experience of sitting down with a pot of fresh whole leaf green tea, they can't be beat for traveling or a quick cup of tea to get you through a busy day.
Sign up here for free subscription to the Green Tea Health Newsletter here:
Did you like this page on tea bag history? Here are more interesting articles
This page was last updated by Sharon Jones.
Subscribe now and don't miss a single issue.
Find out more!