The tea bag was invented in 1908 by tea merchant Thomas Sullivan of New York. He sent customers small samples of tea wrapped in silk mesh bags so they could easily brew the tea leaves without having to strain them. He called them tea bags since they resembled little tea bladders.
The teabag quickly became popular for everyday use, but there were some growing pains. Consumers could not figure out how to make tea using the tea bags and steep the tea leaves in water instead, making tea that was often weak and bitter; it wasn’t until sometime later when someone suggested adding a second tea bag with the first one to add more flavor. During World War II, tea bags became very difficult to get because of war rationing and shortages, which nearly destroyed America’s tea bag industry. Today, 90% of tea consumed in America is from tea bags.
Types of Tea Bags
Tea bags come in many different types and styles, such as pyramid tea bags, tea ball tea bags, and tea filter paper teabags. Some tea companies will even package their loose tea in a small cloth bag so it can be easily steeped.
Problems with Tea Bags
One of the problems with tea bags is that they lock out oxygen from getting to your tea leaves while they steep. Enclosed in a bag or box for hours at a time, teas can spoil quickly because of this lack of oxygen. It is important to keep an eye on how long you let your tea sit in the water after steeping. One minute too long and you may have ruined the flavor of your cup of tea. You can prevent this from happening by tea straining tea bags after steeping.
Another problem with tea bags is that tea companies like to use tea dust and tea fannings in their tea bags instead of whole leaves. Tea dust and tea fannings are the scraps leftover from processing tea leaves and these small, broken-up pieces of tea do not give as strong a flavor as whole tea leaves. So you only get half the flavor out of your cup of tea when you use the weakly flavored bits.
Types of Ingredients Used to Make Tea Bags
Paper: Paper makes for a good barrier between the brewed liquid and the friction-sensitive contents inside such as herbal teas or rooibos teas. The paper must be non-toxic or food-approved to prevent it from imparting its flavor to the tea. Paper tea bags are usually made of bleached fibers.
Fiber: For tea bags with loose leaf tea inside, polypropylene plastic is used for the sachets. The barrier properties of the material make it ideal to use by tea producers who wish to keep tea fresh. This type of teabag is heat-sealed, so water cannot enter or escape unless punctured.
Tea Bags Today
Since tea companies began making tea bags with larger pieces of tea leaves in them, people have been able to enjoy a richer cup of tea every time they steep their favorite bags; however, there are still some preferred methods that many people enjoy using when preparing their daily tea.
For tea lovers who prefer to use tea balls, tea strainers, or tea infusers instead of bags when making their tea, they can steep teas for longer periods of time without worrying about the tea becoming bitter or spoiled because the leaves are not sealed up in a paper or polypropylene bag. Loose leaf tea is always more flavorful than tea dust and fannings found in tea bags.
Alternative Uses for Tea Bags
An old trick for freezing fresh ginger in order to grate it easily is to place grated ginger in a tea bag made out of muslin or cheesecloth with string ties at each end, then place the tea bags in your freezer compartment until you need some extra ginger to add flavor to your tea or recipes.
What You Should Know About Tea Bags
People around the world continue to enjoy tea every day, and tea bags are a popular way of preparing tea by millions throughout North America and Europe. It is up to you like the tea drinker how you would like to brew your tea, but there are many different ways that tea can be prepared for drinking, so it’s good to know about all the options available!